The NBA suspended Wizards forward Nene for one game after his altercation with Chicago Bulls guard Jimmy Butler. Nene will be forced to miss Sunday’s critical Game 4 at Verizon Center for head-butting and grabbing Bulter around the neck with both hands and attempting to throw him down, NBA president of basketball operations Rod Thorn announced.
The incident occurred with 8 minutes, 28 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter of the Wizards’ 100-97 loss Saturday when Nene made a winding, fastbreak layup and bumped into Butler. Nene gave Butler an elbow and Butler retaliated by nudging Nene on the hip. When Nene turned to face Butler, Butler charged and they locked foreheads and glared at each other until the situation turned into a scuffle.
Nene grabbed Butler by the back of his neck with his right hand, then clamped down with his left hand, pulling Butler into him as he backpedaled. Officials stepped in separate the two but Nene received two technical fouls and was given an automatic ejection.
The Wizards won their first four games against Chicago with Nene in the lineup, including the regular season. The Bulls beat the Wizards on April 5, when Nene was still recovering from of a sprained left knee. Chicago finally pulled out a close game in this series with Nene absent for the final minutes.
Nene had averaged 20.5 points in the first two games of this series, but was limited to just 10 points on 5 of 15 shooting in Game 3. The Wizards went 13-9 in their past 22 games this season without Nene, who came off the bench for four of the final five regular season games before being inserted in the starting lineup for Game 1 of this series.
Without Nene, Trevor Booker will return to the starting lineup at power forward. The Wizards have a two games to one lead in this best-of-seven series.