Miami Heat, Toronto Raptors game features scuffles, possible spitting

Jan. 10 (UPI) — The Miami Heat and Toronto Raptors got into several violent exchanges during their recent Eastern Conference clash.

While the Heat escaped the Air Canada Centre with a 90-89 victory Tuesday, it wasn’t lucky enough to leave Toronto unscathed. Heat forward James Johnson was kicked out of the game with Raptors big man Serge Ibaka for exchanging punches in the third quarter. Raptors guard DeMar DeRozan and Heat guard Goran Dragic got into it after the final whistle, going at each other when the teams were lining up to shake hands.

The fiercest scuffle was between Ibaka and Johnson. The 6-foot-9, 250-pound Johnson eyed the 6-foot-10, 235-pound Ibaka when the Raptors were on offense at the 7:50 mark in the third quarter. Ibaka stood at the top of the key, wrapping up Johnson so he couldn’t get free to defend. Johnson took exception to the contact, shoving Ibaka. The two then exchanged punches.

A referee came in to separate the duo, before they were both sent to their respective locker rooms.

Twitter users speculated who would have won the fight, after it went down. Johnson has the edge in weight, while Ibaka has the edge in height and is younger than his counterpart.

But Johnson is an MMA savant and his entire family has varying degrees of black belts, including his parents.

Ibaka departed after scoring 11 points and grabbing five rebounds. Johnson had four points and three rebounds.

Dragic and DeRozan had their run-in after the final buzzer. The two guards came chest-to-chest as Dragic walked toward the Raptors’ bench. They exchanged words before DeRozan pushed Dragic away with both hands. Heat coach Erik Spoelstra came flying in to separate the two players, before DeRozan lobbed a punch at Dragic, but didn’t make contact. Dragic appeared to purse his lips together in a spitting motion, during the exchange, which prompted Twitter users to ask if he was spitting at the Raptors star.

DeRozan did not address if he was spit on during the incident, but said he didn’t like the look he got from the Heat guard.

“He must have thought I was trying to hit him or something after I shot the [final] shot, but I don’t know,” DeRozan told reporters in his postgame comments.

“I didn’t have no problem with it at first until he looked at me, so who knows? That’s a question you probably gotta ask him.”

Dragic said the exchange was “no big deal.”

“Ah, nothing special. We just exchanged some words. No big deal,” Dragic told reporters, according to the South Florida Sun-Sentinel.

The Miami Herald reported that DeRozan’s shooting hand hit Dragic in the face after he put up the final shot. Dragic and DeRozan were the game’s leading scorers. Dragic netted 24 points and had 12 rebounds, while DeRozan had a game-high 25 points for the Raptors.

The Heat and Raptors could received discipline from the NBA for the altercations. Miami has now won five consecutive games heading into its 7 p.m. contest Wednesday against the Indiana Pacers at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis.

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