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Three Ejected Following Fight

January 18, 1996

MIAMI (AP) _ A fight between the Washington Bullets and Miami Heat began with words, according to one of the participants.

Juwan Howard of Washington and Miami’s Bimbo Coles and Keith Askins were ejected following the fight in the second quarter of the Heat’s 96-89 victory Wednesday.

The brawl started with an exchange between Howard and Coles following a Miami basket.

``We were running up the floor and he cursed me,″ Howard said. ``I hate to see it lead to an altercation like that. It looks bad for both teams and the league, but once it does happen, you are not thinking about that. Your ego is on the line.″

Howard shoved Coles. Coles shoved Howard back before other players intervened, and a swarm of players spilled off the court and into the first row.

Askins stepped between the two main combatants but was ejected for throwing a punch, a ruling that Heat coach Pat Riley protested. No punch was visible on television replays.

``To me, all the punches were thrown by Howard,″ Riley said. ``Keith Askins didn’t throw a punch. We will appeal that one. He was more of a peacemaker than anything else.″

Askins and Coles didn’t comment. They departed before the locker room was opened to reporters.

Referee Bennett Salvatore said Askins threw the punch ``in the fray.″

``It was really a cut-and-dried thing,″ Salvatore said.

Salvatore was part of the crew in Miami’s 90-89 loss at Portland last week. Riley complained about the officiating following that game and drew a $10,000 fine from the NBA.

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