HOUSTON – The NBA suspended Orlando’s Arron Afflalo for two games Thursday for that roundhouse punch he aimed at Timberwolves forward Nemanja Bjelica’s head in Tuesday’s game.
The league ruled Afflalo out for the Magic’s Thursday game at Cleveland and Sunday’s game at Boston. Bjelica wasn’t suspended.
“The league, they’ve got to make decisions on that,” Wolves coach Tom Thibodeau said. “I think the discipline part of it is important, and we’ve got to make sure we’re consistent with things. That’s the most important thing.
“We all love competition. That’s what we want to see. But we want to make sure we don’t cross over the line.”
Afflalo and Bjelica were automatically ejected after each received a second technical foul for the second of two confrontations with each other.
The second time, the two collided when Bjelica moved for a rebound and Afflalo blocked his way. Afflalo swung wildly with his right hand and Bjelica placed Afflalo in a headlock that defused the altercation.
Bjelica declined comment on Afflalo’s suspension.
“The only thing I can see is my father was proud when he saw the way I react,” Bjelica said.
Bjelica said he hasn’t had any contact with Afflalo since both were ejected.
On Wednesday, Afflalo told Orlando reporters the verbal exchange that drew the initial technical fouls “happens all the time” in the NBA.
“It was nothing personal,” Afflalo said. “I don’t know him. It’s just unfortunate that it escalated to where it ended between us. I’ll try to handle it a little bit better next time.”
One basketball’s plenty
Not long after he was named a starter in next month’s All-Star Game, Rockets superstar James Harden returned after missing seven games because of a Grade 2 hamstring strain. The Rockets entered the Wolves game 15-0 when Harden, point guard Chris Paul and center Clint Capela play together and 15-12 when they don’t.
“I didn’t have doubts it would work, I just didn’t know how fast it would work,” Wolves veteran Jamal Crawford said about ball-dominant guards Harden and Paul playing together. “I knew that would be an adjustment, but they’ve done it a lot better than a lot of people even thought.”
The NBA named its All-Star Game starters picked by fan, media and players voting. Not surprisingly, Wolves guard Jimmy Butler did not make it in Western Conference voting, not with fellow guards Harden, Stephen Curry and Russell Westbrook also there.
Harden and Curry were picked to start as well as frontcourt players Kevin Durant, Anthony Davis and DeMarcus Cousins. Butler ranked eighth among West guards in combined voting. Wolves center Karl-Anthony Towns finished seventh among West frontcourt players.
When asked before starters were named if he deserved to be among them, Butler said: “Who me? I don’t care, to tell you the truth. It wouldn’t bother me if my name was left off the list.”
The reserves will be announced Tuesday at 6 p.m. Butler and Towns likely will be picked by Western coaches.
• Rockets forward Trevor Ariza and guard Gerald Green served the first of their two-game league suspension for entering the Los Angeles Clippers’ locker room looking for a confrontation after Monday’s loss. “Is Harden back?” Thibodeau said when asked about the “shorthanded” Rockets.
• Little-used center Cole Aldrich received three votes in player balloting. He was one of seven Wolves who had six or fewer votes. Asked if his mom had a vote, he said: “No, and I don’t think she would have voted for me. She’s smarter than that.”