Zion Williamson defends Kevin Love after Heat-Pelicans brawl: ‘He actually protected me on my fall’

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The New Orleans Pelicans and Miami Heat got into one of the bigger fights of the season on Friday. When the dust settled, four players were tossed early in the fourth quarter of what turned out to be a Heat victory: Jimmy Butler, Naji Marshall, Jose Alvarado and Thomas Bryant. But now it would seem that the whole incident was based on a misunderstanding.

The entire kerfuffle began when Zion Williamson airballed, which was caught by Butler. Williamson went for a steal and succeeded soon afterward, quickly choosing to go back up for another bucket. He was fouled hard by Kevin Love in the process, and things escalated from there.

But here’s the rub: Williamson defended Love for his part in the situation on Saturday. “I wasn’t tripping about K-Love because he actually protected me on my fall,” Williamson said. “I just kind of got up and walked away. All of a sudden I see Butler kind of lunging toward Naji, so I’m trying to get there like, ‘Yo, relax, like what’s going on?'”

Heat coach Erik Spoelstra echoed that sentiment after the game. “It was just, I think, a misunderstanding of the play,” he said. “I think Zion slipped on the play when K-Love grabbed him and it looked a lot worse than what it was. And then everybody kind of overreacted. I think they interpreted that K-Love threw [Williamson] down. On K-Love’s best day, I don’t think he could throw him down.”

But fights happen in the NBA, and when they do, they can escalate beyond the initial scuffle. Butler and Marshall got tied up quickly. Both teams got involved. The two sides initially appeared to break up, but off of the actual court, Alvarado and Bryant got caught up at the scorer’s table. 

It’s rarely possible to fully know what is said or happening within these incidents, but tempers can flare quickly. On Friday, what looked like a misunderstanding ultimately turned into four ejections for the Pelicans and Heat.



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