Philadelphia center Joel Embiid and Minnesota center Karl-Anthony Towns have each been suspended two games without pay for an on-court altercation and continued escalation.
Kiki VanDeWeghe, the NBA’s executive vice president of basketball operations, announced the suspensions Thursday, a day after the undefeated 76ers’ 117-95 home victory over the Timberwolves.
The star players were ejected after tangling with 6:42 left in the third quarter and the 76ers ahead 75-55. Embiid shoved Towns, who answered with a punch that missed as both men fell to the floor. Philadelphia’s Ben Simmons jumped in and forcefully held Towns down as other players and coaches ran onto the court.
“I didn’t throw any punches, so I shouldn’t get suspended,” Embiid said Wednesday night.
They were ejected after a video review.
“We deemed the altercation a fight. Therefore, by rule, they’re both ejected,” said Mark Ayotte, the officials’ crew chief. “I just saw them each lock arms. And that escalated to the fight.”
Gersson Rosas, the Timberwolves’ president of basketball operations, issued a statement after the suspensions were handed down.
“While we are disappointed with the league’s decision, we understand the magnitude of this unfortunate incident,” Rosas said. “The NBA is highly competitive and last night was a reflection of that. We support Karl and will move forward together as a group.”
Embiid will sit out Saturday night at Portland and Monday night at Phoenix. He’s averaging 23.3 points and 10.3 rebounds in three games this season.
Towns will miss games Saturday night at Washington and Monday night at home against Milwaukee. He’s averaging 27.3 points and 11.5 rebounds in four games.
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