The Pacers attempted to clarify, and in some cases disputed, a reported practice fight involving Lance Stephenson and Evan Turner.
Yahoo Sports reported Tuesday that Stephenson and Turner had to be separated following a "fistfight" at practice last Friday. The Indianapolis Star reported that a source close to the situation confirmed that the incident was "pretty accurate" as first reported.
Stephenson, Turner, and others offered their version of events on Wednesday, one day after Indiana evened its first-round playoff series with Atlanta at one game apiece.
"[Turner is] a good guy, I have no problem with him," Stephenson told reporters. "We're competitive players, we got into a little scuffle, but it was just practice-related. No blows. Just playing hard, getting really for the playoffs. ... There's no hard feelings with us. We're good as a unit and we're good in the locker room."
Turner also denied that punches were thrown.
"Nothing really happened," Turner said, in comments recorded by KentSterling.com. "Just got tangled up in practice. That was really it. There was no fists thrown or anything. Lance and I are both 6-foot-6, 230 [pounds]. I think there would be some type of mark if there were punches thrown. Nothing really happened. ... I think some people in certain senses try to make something out of nothing. ... I don't want people running around thinking I did something crazy, or Lance did something crazy, because it wasn't along those lines."
Veteran Pacers forward David West also downplayed the incident.
"That's blown out of proportion, there were no punches thrown," West said. "It was nothing really from our perspective. Stuff like that has happened a bunch throughout the year. It's no big deal for us, we go through all that all the time."
Turner landed in Indiana as part of a trade-deadline move that sent Danny Granger to Philadelphia.
Prior to Turner’s debut on Feb. 25, the Pacers were 42-13. With Turner in the lineup, Indiana finished the regular season with a 13-14 record.
Hanging over the addition? Both Stephenson, 25, and Turner, 25, are on track to become free agents this summer, with the former expected to be one of the more coveted players on the market. There has been much speculation about whether the Pacers, who have already committed big dollars to All-Stars Paul George and Roy Hibbert, would be able to pay to retain Stephenson. The two players were theoretically pitted against each other when it came to earning potential, regardless of whether their paydays would come from the Pacers or an outside suitor.
After losing 101-93 in Game 1 to the Hawks — in embarrassing fashion, no less — the Pacers rebounded to score a sound win in Game 2, 101-85.
Indiana (No. 1) and Atlanta (No. 8) are deadlocked at one game apiece in their series. Game 3 is set for Philips Arena on Thursday.Video via YouTube user Kent Sterling