Bryant's suspension a surprise to Jaric after blow to the face

  • Article by: KENT YOUNGBLOOD , Star Tribune
  • Updated: March 8, 2007 - 10:44 PM

Considering Marko Jaric found himself face-to-hand with the situation, it's interesting that Jaric was surprised that Lakers guard Kobe Bryant was suspended.

Bryant was given a one-game suspension for an incident that occurred with 58 seconds left in regulation in the Wolves' double-overtime victory Tuesday at Target Center.

After having his shot blocked by Jaric, Bryant swung his right arm, striking Jaric in the face. It was similar to a play in late January when Bryant was suspended for hitting San Antonio's Manu Ginobili the same way.

Jaric said he didn't think it was an intentional hit, that Bryant was just trying to draw a foul.

"I know for sure it wasn't intentional," Jaric said.

However, said Wolves coach Randy Wittman, the league had little choice after Bryant had been suspended for the hit on Ginobili.

"If you look at the two plays and put them side by side, they're mirror images of one another," Wittman said. "I think the league backed themselves in a corner. If ...I don't think they had a choice but to suspend him. Now, is it the right decision? You can debate that."

Asked if he thought Bryant was a dirty player, Jaric said no.

"To be a dirty player you need to be dirty on defense," Jaric said. "On defense he's pretty legit. He's a good defender. I don't consider him a dirty player."

Madsen back

After missing six games because of a left ankle sprain, Mark Madsen is set to return tonight, just in time for a team looking for big men to rotate against Heat center Shaquille O'Neal.

Wittman figures to play Madsen a good bit if Madsen's ankle feels good today after taking part in a full practice Thursday.

"We don't have many other choices," Wittman said. "So yeah, Mark is going to play."

Trenton Hassell's sprained ankle has not healed enough for him to make the trip with the team.

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