Saturday , Nov , 20 , 2004 C.Y. Ellis

Motor City Mayhem: Indiana-Detroit ends in brawl

Motor City Mayhem: Indiana-Detroit ends in brawl === Auburn Hills, MI (Sports Network) – Ron Artest scored 24 points, as Indiana defeated Detroit 97-82 in a game that was stopped late in the fourth quarter due to a fight on the court that spilled into the stands and included the fans.

Motor City Mayhem: Indiana-Detroit ends in brawl

The Pacers led a seemingly calm game by 15 points with 45 seconds left and then things unraveled. Detroit’s Ben Wallace was fouled by Artest and the Pistons center took exception to what he deemed a hard foul and gave Artest a two-handed push to the face.

After that, the fighting continued by the scorers’ table as players came off both benches to continue the melee on the court. The Detroit fans then lost all control and began throwing cups filled with liquid and ice at Artest, who was surprisingly staying out of harm’s way on top of the scorers’ table. Artest was hit in the head with a flying cup and immediately raced into the stands where he started punching the culprit.

“I love fans to be involved and cheer, but to throw things, that’s not what our fans are like. There is no place for that for anybody,” said Detroit head coach Larry Brown.

Indiana guard Stephen Jackson followed into the crowd, along with several Pacer players, and started swinging away at the unruly fans.

After security tried to get the players out of the crowd, the game was called with 45 seconds remaining. However, the fighting was not over as Detroit fans continued to pelt the Pacers as the players were being escorted into the locker room. The players and coaches were finally able to make it into the tunnel, but not before all tempers were lost.

“I’m just embarrassed for our league and having our players be a part of this,” said Brown.

This was the first game between these two teams since last year’s Eastern Conference championship. The Pistons won last year’s series 4-2 before eventually winning the NBA title.

Indiana will next visit Motown on March 25 and hosts the Pistons on Christmas Day.

Jermaine O’Neal, who was also involved in a fight on his way to the locker room, scored 20 points and grabbed 13 rebounds for the Pacers, who have won three straight games. O’Neal apparently knocked a fan out cold after being hit with a foreign object and charges might be pressed on the All-Star.

“We got a lot of guys injured and we’ll have to see because we have guys that got banged up (in the fight),” said Indiana head coach Rick Carlisle.

Austin Croshere had 15 points while Jackson and Jamaal Tinsley each netted 13 in the win.

Richard Hamilton scored 20 points and Rasheed Wallace added 19 points and 10 boards for the Pistons, who have lost three of their last four games. Ben Wallace, who was playing in his second game back following the death of his brother, had 13 points and 10 rebounds in the loss.

Indiana led 23-21 late in the first quarter, but closed the period by scoring 11 of the final 17 points to garner a 34-27 edge after one. During the late surge, Artest scored five points and Tinsley chipped in four.

The Pacers got some breathing room in the second period as they began the quarter on a 17-4 flurry to take a 20-point lead. O’Neal had six points and Eddie Gill scored five during the critical run, which made it 51-31 with just under seven minutes left in the half.

The Pistons got as close as 15 later in the frame, but Indiana went into the locker room with a 59-43 cushion.

Artest scored 18 points and O’Neal added 11 for the Pacers, who were 6-of-9 from three-point range in the first half. Hamilton had 10 points for Detroit, which was only 16-of-41 from the field in the opening 24 minutes (39 percent).

The third quarter was tight throughout and Indiana took an 80-66 lead into the final period.

However, in the fourth, the Pistons came storming back.

An 11-2 run to start the quarter, highlighted by five points from Lindsey Hunter, trimmed the deficit to 82-77. Trailing 84-79 moments later, Detroit had a chance to get within three, but Ben Wallace missed a running finger roll from in close.

That miss proved costly, as Indiana rattled off seven straight points, culminated by Jackson’s three-pointer, to push the lead to 91-79. The lead rose to 15 moments later before the melee broke out.