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Two reserves for Miami and Indiana in pre-game altercation

May 20, 2012, 5:41 PM EDT

STEPHENSON_LANCE

Before Game 4 of Pacers-Heat, Juwan Howard and Lance Stephenson got into a verbal altercation.

No, that’s not the start of a joke. It actually happened. From Yahoo Sports:

Miami Heat forward Juwan Howard and Stephenson exchanged sharp words within inches of each other’s faces on the court. Stephenson, who flashed a choke sign at Heat star LeBron James in the Pacers’ Game 3 victory, had been shooting with the Pacers on one end of the floor when Howard walked past on the way to Miami’s locker room.

It was unclear which player had said something to start the jawing, but Howard was soon warning Stephenson to keep his mouth shut, as Pacers assistant coach Brian Shaw stepped between the players and nudged Howard away from the court. There didn’t appear to be any possibility that the altercation would evolve into violence, but Howard clearly had no use for Stephenson, nor his attitude.

via Juwan Howard has verbal altercation with Lance Stephenson before Game 4 – Yahoo! Sports.

Stephenson’s “choke” bit rubbed the Heat the wrong way, the Pacers apologized. Howard, the ultimate veteran, because he’s a million years old, is sticking up for his teammate. Neither player plays. This is not a big deal. But as the third quarter wraps up of Heat-Pacers, there’s been another technical on Danny Granger and David West is still getting in altercations. It’s a tough, physical series and the Pacers aren’t backing down. You have to think the odds of a fight in this series before its end are pretty high.

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