WASHINGTON -- The NBA announced a one-game suspension for Wizards power forward Nene on Saturday afternoon. He'll have to sit out Sunday's Game 4 against the Bulls.
According to the release from the league, Nene was suspended for "head-butting and grabbing guard-forward Jimmy Butler around the neck with both hands and attempting to throw him down."
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The incident occurred with 8:28 left in the fourth quarter of the Bulls' 100-97 victory at the Verizon Center on Friday. After Nene scored on a fast-break lay in, he appeared to throw an elbow at Butler, who took exception.
When Butler touched Nene on the side and expressed his thoughts, the Brazilian forward forcefully pushed his forehead against Butler and grabbed his head with both hands.
Nene was assessed two technical fouls and ejected from the game. He'd been the Wizards' top scorer through two games of the playoffs, averaging 20.5 points. He didn't play as well in Game 3, finishing with 10 points, 4 rebounds and 5 turnovers.
The Bulls met with the media on Saturday before the suspension was announced.
"We have to be ready for everyone," coach Tom Thibodeau said. "That's the way we're looking at it. We're not speculating on what might be. That's not our concern. Just get ourselves ready. Don't get lost in what could happen, what might happen. We know we need to prepare for everybody and be ready for them."
Asked if Nene should be suspended, Thibodeau was predictably noncommittal.
"That's for the league to decide," he said. "I'm not wrapped up in that. I'm just thinking about what our team has to do to get ready."
The Wizards went 14-15 without Nene this season, but many of those losses were early in the season. They were a respectable 13-8 after he went down on Feb. 23 with a sprained left knee.
Oddly enough, the team that won the points in the paint has lost every game in this series. Washington dominated the inside scoring 50-34 in Game 3, after the Bulls built an 84-60 edge in the first two contests.
Nene's absence figures to mean more shots for Wizards guards John Wall and Bradley Beal, which could end up playing in Washington's favor.
Joakim Noah was asked how Nene's absence might affect Sunday's game.
"I'm not sure. I don't think it changes our mindset, though," he said. "We know it's a crucial game for us. Like I said, all three games really came down to the end. Attention to detail is huge and the game in these situations is so mental.
"So for us, it's just about staying focused on things we can control. Early game tomorrow. Just trying to get to bed as early as possible."