AUBURN HILLS, Mich., Nov. 19 (Ticker) -- Stephen Jackson
made quite a
first impression on the overheated rivalry between the Indiana
Pacers and Detroit Pistons.
Jackson delivered knockouts of all kinds as the Pacers brawled
with fans in the stands and on the court after a 97-82 victory
over the Pistons, a game that was called with 45 seconds to
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In one of the craziest melees in NBA history, Jackson, Ron Artest
and Jermaine O'Neal
all landed haymakers on unruly
Pistons fans, who showed the worst side of their behavior by
throwing everything from plastic bottles to chairs at members of
the Pacers, who fought back - literally.
"That was the ugliest thing I've ever seen in my life as a coach
or player," Pistons coach Larry Brown said. "I'm just
embarrassed for our league and disappointed being a part of this
with young people seeing that."
Several Pacers went into the stands to accost fans who had
thrown things. Jackson climbed into the seats and landed a
roundhouse right that floored a fan next to another fan who had
thrown a plastic beer bottle at Artest, hitting him in the face.
Fans continued to throw things and verbally accost members of
the Pacers. Several came onto the court and one took a fighting
stance against Artest, who dropped him with a punch. O'Neal
ran over and floored another fan with a righthanded blow.
Former NBA player and ESPN announcer Bill Walton said under no
circumstances should players react to fans' actions.
"You have to prepare yourself for every eventuality," he said.
"Yes, the temptation is always there, but the discipline
required to become an NBA player, the privilege and honor that
goes with being an NBA player, prohibits you from ever crossing
"It was a frightful, devastating experience. There will be
major ramifications of this for both teams and this could have a
huge impact for the rest of the NBA."
There was some speculation after the game that assault charges
would be filed against one or more of the Pacers, but nothing
was expected Friday night.
"The NBA is withholding comment until it can review the incident," NBA spokesman Tim Frank said.
Players from both teams left without comment.
"I don't believe anyone will be arrested tonight," said Tom
Wilson, the president of Palace Sports and Entertainment. "The
Pacers are going to leave and if criminal charges are decided
on, they will come back at that point."
Fighting with each other minutes earlier, the Pacers and Pistons
quickly teamed up to fight off the fans. Detroit forward
Rasheed Wallace and radio announcer Rick Mahorn went into the
stands to try to break things up. Referee Tommy Nunez Jr. was
clipped in the head with a thrown bottle, opening a cut.
The game was called, which forced the Pacers to make their way
through a gauntlet of angry fans who continued to throw objects
despite pleas from Brown. Players and team officials were
showered with beer, soda and popcorn. No players from either
team spoke with the media.
"I felt like I was fighting for my life out there," Pacers coach
Rick Carlisle told ESPN.
Acquired in the offseason, Jackson is new to this rivalry, which
peaked with the Pistons defeating the Pacers in six physical
games in last season's Eastern Conference finals.
He scored 13 points, including a dagger 3-pointer and dunk less
than 40 seconds apart that ended a rally by the Pistons and gave
the Pacers a 93-79 lead with 3:52 to play.
Artest scored 24 points and initially showed remarkable
restraint. With 45 seconds left, he fouled Ben Wallace
clearly overreacted and shoved Artest with a chokehold.
Artest walked away but was followed by Wallace, who had to be
restrained. While players from both teams jawed at each other
and order was being restored, Artest lay down on the scorer's
table when he was hit with the bottle, and the Palace looked
like a prison riot.
"I'm sorry the game had to end this way," Carlisle said. "It
was a great game up to that point."
O'Neal had 20 points and 13 rebounds and Austin Croshere
15 points for the Pacers, who have won three in a row.
scored 20 points and Rasheed Wallace
for the Pistons, who rallied from a 20-point first-half deficit
to get within 84-79 with just under eight minutes to go. O'Neal
made a free throw before Croshere sank a 3-pointer and Jackson
sealed the win.
Indiana held a 36-29 lead before embarking on a 13-0 run fueled
by O'Neal to open a 20-point lead midway through the second