PORTLAND, Ore. — Steve George, a 35-year-old fan sitting in Memorial Coliseum, has plans for Houston's Vernon Maxwell.
"Absolutely I'm pressing charges," George said as he held an ice pack on his left jaw Monday night. "He hit me square. . . . I was hit by an NBA player in the face while I was sitting in Row L and I'm not happy."
George and other witnesses said Maxwell charged into the stands and punched him in the third quarter of the Rockets' 120-82 loss to the Portland Trail Blazers.
Maxwell, teammate Robert Horry and assistant coach Larry Smith were ejected. The incident occurred with 3:33 to play in the third quarter and Portland leading, 79-52.
George, of Atlanta and visiting his brother in Portland, said witnesses offered to help him as he was led from the arena by a security guard.
"All I know is when I walked out of there I probably had six business cards handed to me from people saying, 'I saw him hit you,' " George said.
Maxwell, Horry and Smith left the building before the game ended and were not available for comment, but Houston's Hakeem Olajuwon said he expects a stiff penalty.
"Everybody's supposed to be a man and be responsible for your action," Olajuwon said. "So I don't think it was wise to go into the crowd, and we'll pay the price."
Witnesses and the George brothers said that at the time of the incident, they were saying, "Nice game. You've got five points. Nice game."
The George brothers were sitting on the aisle 10 rows from the floor and were stunned when Maxwell came at them. Neither heard Maxwell say anything.
"I'm a fan yelling about the game," Steve George said. "I was definitely riding Vernon, you know, 'Five points, four fouls, you're not having a good night.' I don't deserve to get hit in the face for that."
Nick George, 36, of Portland, admitted that he hit Maxwell in retaliation but said it was more like a shove.
Horry did not throw any punches and seemed shocked by the whole incident, the George brothers said.
Earlier in the third period, Houston's Otis Thorpe and Portland's Chris Dudley were ejected for an altercation. Thorpe grabbed Dudley by the neck and Dudley threw the ball at him.
Mookie Blaylock had 21 points and 16 assists for the Atlanta Hawks in a 107-92 victory over the Philadelphia 76ers at Philadelphia. . . . Armon Gilliam scored a season-high 28 points to lead the New Jersey Nets to a 101-97 victory over the Detroit Pistons at East Rutherford, N.J.