Lance Stephenson made his return to Indianapolis on Tuesday, as the Pacers welcomed the Toronto Raptors to town. It was an important game for the Pacers, who entered the game at 37-40 and in precarious playoff position.
Thanks to another huge night from Paul George -- who dropped 35 points and 10 boards -- and a strong night off the bench from Stephenson -- who finished with 12 points, 3 assists and 2 rebounds -- the Pacers made easy work of the Raptors, pulling away in the fourth quarter for an 108-90 victory and a half-game lead over Miami for final playoff spot.
But despite the Pacers’ double-digit lead, there was still plenty of drama in the closing seconds.
That was because Stephenson, instead of dribbling out the final few seconds, went in for an uncontested layup with just 3.3 seconds to go. DeMar DeRozan and P.J. Tucker, in particular, were peeved by what they saw as showboating or running up the score or something, so they ran up on Stephenson and started to yell in his face.
PJ Tucker wanting to fight Lance Stephenson over a layup is one of my favorite things that happened this seasonpic.twitter.com/uoADRrH9eG— ☕netw3rk (@netw3rk) April 5, 2017
Seriously, they were not happy.
Stephenson, to his credit, did not respond and simply walked away as the rest of the players, coaches and officials gathered to separate the players. Tucker, who seemed especially upset, continued screaming at Stephenson but ultimately nothing really happened beyond some yelling and contorted faces.
After the game, Stephenson apologized, saying he simply got caught up in the emotion of his return to Indiana. This was a smart move in my opinion, because Tucker seemed very mad, and judging by his reaction during the game, it doesn’t seem like much fun to have Tucker very mad at you.
Stephenson admitted that he got caught up in the moment of the last play and apologizes to the Raptors. pic.twitter.com/nk2Wk32XIQ— Indiana Pacers (@Pacers) April 5, 2017
These two teams don’t play the rest of the regular season, but there is a slight chance they could face each other in the first round of the playoffs if the Pacers are able to move up a bit in the standings. If that happens, there could be a possibility for this sudden feud to continue, but most likely there won’t be a P.J. Tucker-Lance Stephenson II.