DETROIT — Moritz Wagner of the Orlando Magic appeared to be knocked out briefly by a punch to the back of the head after starting a fight in the first half against the Pistons that resulted in three ejections Wednesday night, in a scene that recalled an ugly brawl in Detroit 18 years ago.
Wagner was ejected for a flagrant foul, while Killian Hayes and Hamadou Diallo of the Pistons were ejected for their actions during the subsequent scuffle in front of the Pistons bench.
Wagner and Hayes chased an errant Magic pass into the backcourt with 34 seconds left in the first half. Wagner knew Orlando would be called for a backcourt violation the moment he touched it, and he slowed down to allow it to happen.
Malice at Little Caesars Arena 😳
Magic and Pistons rough up each other after Moe Wagner shoved Killian Hayes.
— The Athletic (@TheAthletic) December 29, 2022
Hayes was hip-checked into the Detroit bench by Wagner. starting a scuffle that involved every player on both teams.
Hayes rose to his feet and swung his right arm at Wagner, who was slumped over and appeared to be unconscious.
“He’s fine,” Moritz’s younger brother, Franz Wagner, said. “I haven’t seen the video, but I know that was the absolute last thing he wanted to do.”
A game between the Detroit Pistons and the Indiana Pacers in 2004 became known as “The Malice at the Palace” after fans became involved in the wild melee.
Many Magic players could face suspension if they leave the bench area during an altercation. The players who left the game were Franz Wagner, Cole Anthony, Wendell Carter Jr, Gary Harris, Mo Bamba, R.J. Hampton, Terrence Ross, and Admiral Schofield.
“I need an explanation about the decision because, from what I understand, you can’t leave the bench area and escalate a situation,” Detroit coach Dwane Casey said following the Pistons’ 121-101 victory over the Magic. “That’s when truly terrible things can happen.”