Enlarge image

Naji Marshall (left) and Miami star Jimmy Butler (right) flew off the field

Photo: Matthew Hinton / AP

An already heated NBA game between the New Orleans Pelicans and the Miami Heat escalated shortly after the start of the fourth quarter.

At the end of several scuffles, four players were thrown off the field: Miami's star player Jimmy Butler, teammate Thomas Bryant and Naji Marshall and Jose Alvarado from the Pelicans.

The scene started quite harmlessly.

Miami's Kevin Love committed a foul on Pelicans star Zion Williamson - and that immediately led to a series of altercations.

Williamson fell down, his teammate Naji Marshall rushed to Love and complained.

Miami star Jimmy Butler didn't like that, and he attacked Marshall.

According to the AP news agency, Butler and Marshall briefly grabbed each other's necks while coaches and teammates swarmed around them.

After tempers had calmed down somewhat at first glance, two previously uninvolved players started a new argument.

Bryant from the Miami Heat and Alvarado from the Pelicans attacked each other in front of the referees' scoreboard, and a new scuffle immediately broke out between the two.

“You never want to see that.”

A fan wearing a Pelicans jersey began throwing objects at the Miami players.

He was escorted out by security, as was a Heat fan a short time later.

“You never want to see that,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said of the scuffle.

The altercation could result in disciplinary action from the NBA, such as fines or suspensions.

But Spoelstra said the intensity on the court that led to the melee “is what the competitors want.

It's what the fans want.

It’s what everyone wants, and unfortunately sometimes it boils over.”

The game faded into the background, but continued after all the dismissals.

In the end, the Heat prevailed 106:95 and won their third game in the series.