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Pacers suspend assistant Greg Foster, fine Goga Bitadze after on-court spat

Indiana Pacers big man Goga Bitadze (88), shown March 12, 2021, was involved in a heated verbal exchange with assistant coach Greg Foster during Wednesday's loss to the Sacramento Kings. File Photo by Jim Ruymen/UPI
Indiana Pacers big man Goga Bitadze (88), shown March 12, 2021, was involved in a heated verbal exchange with assistant coach Greg Foster during Wednesday's loss to the Sacramento Kings. File Photo by Jim Ruymen/UPI | License Photo

May 6 (UPI) -- The Indiana Pacers suspended assistant coach Greg Foster for one game and fined center Goga Bitadze an undisclosed amount after their heated on-court exchange during Wednesday's loss to the Sacramento Kings.

The Pacers announced the punishments Thursday. The team said no further details would be released about the "internal team matter."

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Foster served his one-game suspension during the Pacers' home game against the Atlanta Hawks on Thursday night.

Bitadze and Foster have developed a strong relationship this season, but internal issues sparked the emotional on-court spat. According to ESPN, the Pacers have been in turmoil for the past few weeks because of the damaged relationship between head coach Nate Bjorkgren and the players, staff and organization.

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After the Kings scored on a dunk, Foster yelled at Bitadze to protect the rim better. At the other end of the floor, Bitadze sank a 3-pointer and turned toward the Pacers' bench. He then appeared to tell Foster to "sit the [expletive] down."

During the next stoppage, Foster erupted at Bitadze and had to be restrained by staff and players.

The 52-year-old Foster played 13 years in the NBA as a member of the then-Washington Bullets, Atlanta Hawks, Milwaukee Bucks, Chicago Bulls, Minnesota Timberwolves, Utah Jazz, Seattle SuperSonics, Los Angeles Lakers and Toronto Raptors. He has served as an assistant coach for eight years.

Bitadze, playing in his second NBA season, has averaged 5.1 points and 3.3 rebounds over 38 games.

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The Pacers earned a 133-126 win over the Hawks on Thursday to improve to 31-35 this season. Indiana currently holds the No. 9 seed in the Eastern Conference.

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