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Orlando's Afflalo suspended two games for punch thrown at Wolves' Bjelica

The NBA has ruled: It suspended Orlando guard Arron Afflalo this after the next two games without pay for that roundhouse right punch he threw aimed Wolves forward Nemanja Bjelica's head Tuesday night.

Here's video of it in case you haven't seen it.

Afflalo will miss tonight's game at Cleveland and Sunday's game at Boston.

Both Afflalo and Bjelica were ejected during the second quarter after the second incident within four minutes between the two players. Each received their second technical foul of the game for that confrontation in which Afflalo swung wildly and Bjelica responded by putting Afflalo in a headlock so he couldn't throw another punch.

“I don’t want to make like he’s a bad guy, maybe he had a bad day,” Bjelica said after the game. “I just want to say I think I did the right thing. What do you want me to do? Let him punch me one more time?”

Houston star Harden returns from injury to face Wolves tonight

Houston superstar James Harden will make his return after a seven-game injury tonight against the Timberwolves in a late 8:30 p.m. game for TNT at Toyota Center.

Harden hasn't played since a New Year's Eve double-overtime victory over the Lakers because of a Grade 2 hamstring strain and the Rockets 26-9 then were 4-3 without him.

He's expected to play with a 25-minute limit on his playing time, Rockets coach Mike D'Antoni said after his team's shootaround this morning.

The Rockets will play without forward Trevor Ariza and Gerald Green after the NBA suspended them on Wednesday for two games after they went into the Clippers' Staples Center locker room after Monday's loss there looking for a confrontation.

"We've been dealing with guys out all year," Rockets guard Eric Gordon said. "We'll still try to win these next two games against two tough games (Wolves tonight, Golden State Saturday). It doesn't change our mentality of trying to win."

After an investigation in which more than 20 people were interviewed, the league deemed Harden and Chris Paul peacemakers in the incident and there was no disciplinary action for either player.

Former Wolves forward Luc Mbah a Moute will start in Ariza's place against a Wolves team coming off Tuesday's terrible loss at Orlando, which had won just one game since Dec. 6.

The NBA hasn't yet announced any suspension or fine for Magic guard Arron Afflalo who threw a roundhouse right punch aimed for Wolves forward Nemanja Bjelica's head during that game. If one is coming, the league will do so before the Magic's next game, which is tonight in Cleveland.

"That's up to the league," Wolves coach Tom Thibodeau said. "The league has rules and my understanding is if you throw a punch, you get suspended. But that doesn't seem to be the case all the time."

The NBA will announce All-Star Game starters before tonight's TNT doubleheader that begins with Philadelphia-Boston at 6 pm Central time.

Thibodeau said Jimmy Butler deserves to be a starter and said all of his three best players -- Karl-Anthony Towns and Andrew Wiggins -- deserve consideration to be chosen for one of the 12 spots on the West team.

Butler will have a hard time, though, because as well as he's played and for as much as he has meant for his team's 29-17 record, he is on the ballot as a guard in a conference that has Harden, Stephen Curry and Russell Westbrook.

"I don't care, to tell you the truth," Butler said before shoot this morning. "It wouldn't bother me if my name was left off the list."

Final, 1/18 1 2 3 4 F
Minnesota 29-18 17 33 20 28 98
Houston 31-12 26 37 26 27 116

NBA Scoreboard

  • San Antonio

    Toronto

     

    - F

    83

    86

  • Miami

    Brooklyn

     

    - F

    95

    101

  • Washington

    Detroit

     

    - F

    122

    112

  • Sacramento

    Memphis

     

    - F

    88

    106

  • Phoenix

    Denver

     

    - F

    108

    100

  • New York

    Utah

     

    - F

    117

    115

  • Indiana

    LA Lakers

     

    - F

    86

    99

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