Brooklyn Nets forward Jared Dudley was ejected from a feisty play-off game against the Philadelphia 76ers after taking issue with the way Joel Embiid had been delivering fouls.
Jimmy Butler, Embiid's team-mate, didn't like the way Dudley tried to show his frustrations as both teams engaged in a scuffle with carried onto into the crowd in a frantic third quarter.
Both ended up getting ejected on Saturday night after their reactions led to a bigger brawl.
Jared Dudley and Jimmy Butler ejected for the melee; Embiid gets a Flagrant 1 pic.twitter.com/OllMftoI9W
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) April 20, 2019
Butler and Dudley were thrown out in the third quarter of the 76ers' 112-108 victory over the Nets after pushing and shoving that spilled into the stands.
Dudley reacted to Embiid's hard foul on Jarrett Allen, bumping the 76ers' All-Star center before Butler shoved Dudley from behind to start the scrum.
Dudley had been placed into the starting lineup in game four and was agitating the 76ers with his defense and his constant talking to Ben Simmons.
'I don't be paying attention to him too much,' Butler said. 'I just don't think you should run up on anybody like that.'
'Especially because the foul was actually all ball,' Embiid interjected.
That's not the way the referees saw it, with crew chief Ed Malloy saying they ruled it a flagrant 1 - a personal foul considered to have used excessive force - after a video review because of Embiid's windup and unnecessary contact.
Dudley and the Nets had already been angered by Embiid, who elbowed Allen in game two and was given a flagrant 1 that the Nets thought should have been a 2, which means an automatic ejection.
They were further upset when he laughed afterward while apologizing during his post-game news conference.
'Yeah, for sure I send a message,' Dudley said.
'When you have a guy giving flagrant fouls, I mean Joel Embiid is second in the league in flagrant fouls.
'So for that elbow he had before just to have a flagrant 1, no fine, no nothing, laughing in the media, if you think that a team that I play on is going to have (to accept) that, that's another thing coming, especially on this young team.'
Simmons and Dudley - who had exchanged words earlier - along with Malloy all went tumbling into the front row as referees rushed in to intervene.
Dudley and Butler were both given technical fouls - with Embiid saying he planned to pay Butler's fine.
'Dudley and Butler were ejected for their role as escalators, from taking a situation that was under control and escalating it to a heightened altercation,' Malloy said.
Malloy said referees also looked at the roles of Simmons and the Nets' D'Angelo Russell during their lengthy video review but determined they were acting as peacemakers who did not escalate the situation.
Atletico Madrid striker Antoine Griezmann, a huge NBA fan, was in the crowd to watch the fiercely competitive affair as he was suspended for his team's away win at Eibar.
Victory for Embiid and Co puts them in control of their first round play-off series as they hold a 3-1 lead and are now one game away from progressing.
The two sides meet again on Tuesday evening with the 76ers keen to push on their dominance to secure the series and ensure no late drama.