MINNEAPOLIS -- A small fracas in the first half of the Minnesota Timberwolves' 138-119 victory over the Milwaukee Bucks on Saturday led to a pair of ejections midway through the first quarter.
Bucks forward Serge Ibaka and Wolves forward Taurean Prince were face-to-face after fighting for positioning following a free throw from Karl-Anthony Towns, when Wolves guard Patrick Beverley came running over and pushed Ibaka away from Prince.
Bucks guard George Hill responded by shoving Beverley before referees and coaches quickly began separating players from one another.
Beverley and Hill were both ejected. Prince and Ibaka received fouls while Ibaka got a technical foul.
"That gives me a different type of boost," Wolves guard Anthony Edwards, who finished with 25 points, said after the game. "Knowing [Beverley] got kicked out trying to protect TP."
It was the first time this season Beverley, who scored three points with a steal and a block in 10 minutes, has been ejected and fifth time in his career. Hill did not score in four minutes but recorded a steal. This was the first ejection in his 13-year NBA career.
"I wasn't all that happy with it," Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer said. "I'm just going to leave it at that."
The tension between the two teams continued in the second quarter when both Bucks forward Bobby Portis and Wolves center Naz Reid, who scored 12 points in the period, were given technical fouls after exchanging words on the court. Overall, six technical fouls were assessed in a heated first half.
"I think it just fired us up to be honest," Reid said.
Minnesota used that fuel to carry them to victory over Milwaukee, who was playing without star Giannis Antetokounmpo (right knee soreness). The Wolves have won four games in a row overall and 10 of their past 11 games.
With their victory, the Wolves pulled within a half-game of the Denver Nuggets for the No. 6 seed in the Western Conference and a chance to escape the play-in tournament with 10 games remaining in the regular season.
"Anytime we step on the court, we should win. Simple as that," said Wolves star Karl-Anthony Towns, who finished the game with 25 points and 11 rebounds. "We feel we can beat anybody. Every time we walk into the arena we feel we should win if we do what we're supposed to do. We feel it's a guaranteed win."