The NBA will be handing down a lot of suspensions — maybe to much of the Orlando Magic bench — in the wake of an ugly incident at the end of the first half Wednesday night.
It started in the first half’s final minute with an errant Magic pass that rolled into the backcourt. Both the Magic’s Moritz Wagner and the Pistons’ Killian Hayes tried to chase the ball down. If Wagner touched it then it would have been a backcourt violation, so he made the soccer play and tried to shield it a little as it rolled out of bounds near the Pistons’ bench. Hayes was going hard for the ball to keep it in, and as he tried to get around Wagner the Magic big man hip-checked Hayes into the Pistons’ bench and players.
That’s when things got out of control. The Pistons’ Hamidou Diallo raced over and shoved Wagner in the back. Then Hayes popped up and punched Wagner in the back of the head, appearing to knock him out for a second as Wagner collapsed into the Pistons’ bench. After the game, Franz Wagner, Moritz’s younger brother, said, “he’s fine.”
Things getting heated in Detroit 😳 pic.twitter.com/y6kuUP7DCq
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) December 29, 2022
At that point a number of Magic players left their bench area to go down to the Pistons bench and get in the scuffle — Franz Wagner, Cole Anthony, Wendell Carter Jr., Gary Harris, Mo Bamba, R.J. Hampton, Terrence Ross and Admiral Schofield all did so.
There was a lengthy delay while the referees went and watched the replay. They gave Wagner a Flagrant 2 foul and automatic ejection for starting the incident. Both Hayes and Diallo were given technical fouls and ejected for being instigators. However, that was it.
The NBA has a hard-and-fast rule: anyone who leaves the bench during a fight gets ejected and faces a one-game suspension. There were no ejections but the suspensions could follow from the league office. Could the league basically suspend the Magic for one game? Also, what rule should be applied to Pistons players, who didn’t leave their bench but were involved?
Hayes has to get suspended for that punch to the back of the head — remember Brandon Ingram got a four-game suspension for punching Chris Paul. Wagner instigated the entire thing with his hip check.
Joe Dumars — NBA’s executive vice president and head of basketball operation, meaning the guy who hands out suspensions — has a lot of film to watch and decisions to make. This could take a few days, but expect him to bring the hammer down.