Bucks, Pacers square off in dispute over game ball after Giannis’ record-setting performance

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Giannis Antetokounmpo exchanged heated words with members of the Indiana staff and raced toward the Pacers’ locker room Wednesday night as teams squared off in a hallway in a dispute over the game ball following Milwaukee star’s franchise-record 64-point performance.

After Milwaukee’s 140-126 victory, Antetokounmpo had an animated discussion with Indiana star Tyrese Haliburton and other Pacers before rushing from the court toward the Indiana locker room, seemingly in search of the game ball.

Indiana coach Rick Carlisle said after the game that the Pacers took the ball for Oscar Tshiebwe, who scored his first official NBA point in the game.

That led to a confrontation between members of the teams in the arena hallway.

Bucks guard Cameron Payne said he was one of the players who went down the tunnel.

“Man wanted that ball,” Payne said. “I’m following my team, helping my teammate out. It was just a lot of commotion, honestly. He just wanted his ball, man.”

Carlisle said a number of the Bucks were in the hallway near the Indiana locker room and a confrontation occurred, with Indiana’s general manager getting elbowed in the ribs.

“What happened after the game was unfortunate,” Carlisle said. “There was a misunderstanding about the game ball. … We were not thinking about Giannis’ franchise record, so we grabbed the ball.

“A couple of minutes later, several of their players ended up in our hallway, and there was a big, I don’t know what to call it — a fracas, melee, whatever. I don’t think any punches were landed, but my general manager got elbowed in the ribs by one of their players. He certainly had a bruised rib and who knows if it’s anything more than that. Unfortunate situation.

“We don’t need the official game ball. There’s two game balls there. We could have taken the other one, but it didn’t need to escalate to that. Really unfortunate.”

Carlisle cited the teams playing three times in the last few weeks and said that things were heated between the teams. Indiana knocked off Milwaukee last Thursday night in the semifinals of the In-Season Tournament in Las Vegas.

Reporting by The Associated Press.

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