INDIANAPOLIS – It seems this weekend that the Pacers haven’t just taken the fight to the Hawks the past few days-but also to themselves.
Yet the team insists the altercation that took place within their team won’t affect their efforts to win their first round series against Atlanta.
While Lance Stephenson along with other Pacers confirmed a Yahoo Sports report on Wednesday that the fourth-year guard had an on-court altercation with teammate Evan Turner on Friday, all parties involved downplayed the event both in detail and in greater importance.
“We’re both competitive players and we got into a little scuffle but it’s just practice related, no blows,” said Stephenson on his altercation with Turner. “Just playing hard and getting ready for the playoffs. I’ve got no problem with him. Just getting each other ready for the playoffs, going hard at each other.
“That’s what competitors do. That’s how the team gets better. There’s no hard feelings with any of us. We’re good as a unit and we’re good in the locker room.”
Turner, like Stephenson, tried to down to downplay the incident as well. He dismissed the altercation as a part of preparing for the playoffs.
“Nothing really happened. We just got tangled up in practice,” said Turner. “That was really it. There was no fist throwing or anything like that. Lance and I are both 6-6, 230 pounds. I think there would be some type of mark if punches were thrown.
“Nothing really happened.”
Pacers players weren’t in denial that something did occur during the practice, which was followed by a lackluster Game 1 loss to the Hawks in the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals. That defeat was followed three days later by a rout of the Hawks to even the series at one.
Many were quick to point out that altercations like the one on Friday are not uncommon in the NBA and part of the grind of a regular season and playoffs.
“Every team that I’ve been apart since I’ve been in the NBA at some point in the year have had confrontations,” said George. “That grew us. We became closer and stronger because of that. I think even talking back with Larry (Bird), Larry seems to think that it’s part of the process.
“I think we’re great where we are.”
Forward David West-an 11-year veteran of the NBA-concurred with George in the commonality of practice scuffles in a season.
“It something that happens all the time throughout parts of the season so it’s not something that we even reacted to or overreacted to,” said West.