It’s official. The Milwaukee Bucks and Indiana Pacers do not like each other. At the moment, that appears to have even turned into a mutual disrespect towards the other.
While the Bucks’ playoff hopes were perhaps destroyed entirely with the loss in Indiana on Thursday night, Milwaukee didn’t go down without a fight. Literally.
The first instance happened early in the fourth quarter. With Mike Dunleavy about to attempt a fast-break lay-up, Pacers guard Leandro Barbosa delivered a foul that was determined by the officials to be flagrant. As Dunleavy fell into the first row behind the basket, he seemed to topple over Indiana forward Tyler Hansbrough. The two momentarily scrapped as Hansbrough reacted angrily to the situation, but Dunleavy walked away.
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After the game, Dunleavy, a former Pacer from 2006 to 2011, revealed that there was more to it with Hansbrough than just that incident.
“Without getting too much into it, he pulled something that wasn’t right,” Dunleavy said on FOX Sports Wisconsin. “It’s too bad other guys had to come into the fray on it. At least it’s guys who I didn’t play with that seemed to be taking the foul, so I guess from that regard it’s honorable. Barbosa and (David) West, those guys didn’t play with me. At least they sent them to do the dirty work. It’s too bad because it’s between me and Tyler and he knows what he did.
“As far as their ill-will or animosity towards me, I have no idea. You’ll have to ask them. I have no idea. I have no clue. I won’t even really think about it. Any reasonable human being can probably recognize that (they fouled me hard all season long).”
Dunleavy and Hansbrough were teammates for two full seasons in Indiana.
Six minutes after that flagrant foul, Bucks big man Larry Sanders picked up his sixth personal foul and quickly followed it with his second technical foul, leading to his ejection. But it didn’t stop there. The Sanders foul occurred when he tried to run through a screen by Danny Granger, blowing him over in the process. Then, as Sanders pointed at the official and yelled an obscenity, he bumped Roy Hibbert who then fall on top of a downed Granger. As Sanders took a few steps, he soon took issue with Pacers guard George Hill, who did not appear to say anything. Sanders pointed his finger in Hill’s face and yelled a few comments before West stepped in to take up for his smaller teammate. Sanders and West were held back by teammates, but Sanders soon darted away and charged towards West. This happened again 10 seconds later, with Luc Richard Mbah a Moute desperately attempting to restrain Sanders.
“I just didn’t want him to do something stupid,” Mbah a Moute said. “I didn’t want it to get to that point (of a fight). I saw (Sanders) was very upset and he was trying to go at him, so I just tried to hold him back. They’re physical, we play physical, sometimes it happens.”
Asked about Sanders’ actions, coach Scott Skiles said, “The league will handle that. I’ll let the league handle that. I don’t have any comment on it. No comment.”
Sanders did leave the court eventually and was booed on his way back to the locker room by Pacers fans.
“It was just emotions,” Sanders said. “I’ve just got to control them. I wouldn’t say it’s just one thing. We’re all competitors out there. Unfortunately, that’s what it got to. I just have to handle the situation better.”
After the Pacers beat the Bucks in Milwaukee on Saturday, Brandon Jennings directed a few tweets toward Granger following an altercation late in that game. Now, with things getting physical again between the two division rivals, Jennings expanded.
“When the camera’s rolling, there’s a lot of fake, wannabe tough guys in the league,” Jennings said. “I’m not saying Larry’s faking it, but from the standpoint of the Pacers’ game, all of a sudden they’re a team that’s tough and like to talk a lot of stuff. There were little cheapshots here and there, back and forth, like when we played them at our house, there were cheap shots there. Now we got here and Mike goes out for a lay-up and Mike gets cheap-shotted again by Barbosa and Tyler. It’s just been going on.”
All post-game remarks and in-game trash-talk aside, the Bucks now find themselves three games out of the playoff race with just four games remaining on their schedule. Milwaukee has not yet been eliminated from postseason contention, but the road to the playoffs has become increasingly more challenging with the Bucks losing back-to-back nights on the road.
“Obviously it’s gong to be very difficult now,” Skiles said. “We have to win our remaining games and get a little help. We’ll see.”