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Hoop Stars Said To Fight on Plane

April 23, 1999

AUBURN HILLS, Mich. (AP) _ Pistons teammates Christian Laettner and Jerry Stackhouse got into a fist fight over a card game on the team plane, the Detroit Free Press reported Friday.

The newspaper quoted an unidentified player who said he saw the fight.

``I looked up and they were going at it, throwing blows,″ the player said. ``I wasn’t about to get in the middle of it.″

One unidentified source told the newspaper the players were arguing over $2,000, and Stackhouse struck Laettner’s face. The Pistons were returning from a game at Charlotte, and the Free Press said the Pistons intend to ban card games on future flights.

Team spokesman Matt Dobek on Friday dismissed the report of the fight.

``I was on the plane and nothing happened,″ he said.

Detroit has lost three straight games and seven of its last 10. The Pistons are 23-20 on the season and fourth in the Central Division.

Laettner has been out of the lineup since breaking a rib April 1 against Chicago. The report said he did not reinjure it in the fight.

Stackhouse has an injured right ankle. His 12-point, 22-minute effort in Thursday’s 104-96 loss to Philadelphia was his best since he was injured March 28.

Laettner met with coach Alvin Gentry before the game, the newspaper said. His return to the lineup could come Sunday at Toronto.

``It’ll probably be a game-time decision when a decision is made,″ Gentry said. ``It could be a 70-30 chance for Sunday or 60-40. I just don’t know. It’s more than just missing his toughness. He’s a 6-10 guy who can get the tough rebound, make the tough shot or take a hard foul.″

``The toughest thing about this past month is we haven’t had our whole team together,″ Gentry added. ``When we were at full strength I thought we were a pretty good team. We played good teams and we beat good teams.″

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