Serge Ibaka and Marquese Chriss traded blows on the court as the NBA clash between Toronto Raptors and Cleveland Cavaliers descended into chaos on Monday night.
There appeared little wrong as the pair contested a high ball but Raptors power forward Ibaka was sent tumbling to the floor.
Cavaliers star Chriss walked away thinking his defensive job was complete, only for a furious Ibaka to walk up and grab him by the throat from behind.
Serge Ibaka of the Toronto Raptors trades blows with Marquese Chriss of the Cleveland Cavaliers during a furious NBA brawl on Monday night
Ibaka reacted angrily after clashing with Chriss for a high ball, going after the Cavs player and grabbing him by the throat before punches were exchanged
Ibaka is sent back to the locker room by referee Marat Kogut following the bust-up with Chriss
Ibaka had to be escorted from the court and could well face disciplinary action from the NBA
Ibaka shoved Chriss against the base of the hoop before they started exchanging punches while officials and team-mates tried to drag them apart.
Knowing he’d be ejected for his violent reaction, Ibaka walked straight to the locker room, while Chriss was also dismissed after the officials reviewed the incident.
Ibaka is certain to face disciplinary action following the brawl and his potential absence could affect the Raptors chances of topping the Eastern Conference.
They ended up losing the contest 126-101, with Colin Sexton scoring 28 points and Kevin Love contributing 16 points and 18 rebounds.
Kawhi Leonard scored 25 points after sitting out Sunday’s victory in Miami, but his return didn’t help the Raptors, who have the league’s second-best record.
Ibaka and Chriss contest a high ball which leaves the Raptors player on his backside
Chriss walks away but words have been exchanged and Ibaka comes and grabs his throat
The Raptors player then shoved Chriss against the base of the hoop as they grapple
The pair then begin trading punches underneath the hoop as officials scramble to break it up
Ibaka and Chriss continue to exchange blows before they are eventually separated and ejected
Ibaka’s Raptors team-mate Kawhi Leonard spokes about the incident after the game but claimed he didn’t get a good view of the skirmish.
‘I guess they got tangled up,’ Leonard said. ‘Can’t really make a comment on how or why they got into a first-fight, but I guess both guys were competing out there.
‘I don’t know. Words were exchanged. I really didn’t get to see it until the final five seconds.’
Raptors coach Nick Burse admitted Ibaka’s absence could be a concern ahead of a crucial phase in their season.
‘I mean, listen, it’s always going to be concerning,’ he said. ‘We certainly don’t want that in the game. It’s going to cost him a game, probably.
‘We don’t want that. We don’t want to lose one of our guys for incidents like that.’