The complexion of Sunday's Game 4 has changed dramatically for the Wizards, who will not have Nene because of a one-game suspension that came from "head-butting and grabbing guard-forward Jimmy Butler of the Chicago Bulls around the neck with both hands and attempting to throw him down."
The incident occurred with 8:28 remaining in the fourth quarter, after Nene made a fast-break layup. He bumped into Butler, who appeared to make minimal contact with him, and caused a heated scrum. Players from both teams left the bench, which also is an offense that can draw suspensions, but a timeout had been called by Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau. Players are allowed on the court during timeouts.
"Every guy sees things a different way. Nene reacted the way he reacted. He’s a guy just like each one of us, a guy with a big ego, there’s nobody in this locker room who’s going to be pushed around like that," said Marcin Gortat, before the suspension was made official. "That’s how he reacted. Things were a little too hot. Did he deserve two technical fouls? I don’t know. ... I was just shocked what was going on on the court at that time."
Nene received two technicals for the altercation, which carry a $2,000 fine each, and will lose one-game's salary which is $118,182. The total: $124,182.
The Wizards lead the first-round, best-of-7 series 2-1.
Nene had his worst game of the series, shooting just 5-for-15 and didn't get to the foul line despite being bumped often and battered in the paint. His frustration boiled over with Butler, who appeared to be the least of the Bulls' offenders.
"LeBron (James) probably gets fouled harder than anybody. ... I’m pretty sure he wants to (retaliate)," said Wizards guard Bradley Beal, who was hit with a technical foul in Game 2 for tussling with Kirk Hinrich. "There’s a point where you push your limit way too much and I think Nene got pushed to the limit. Do we agree with what he did? Not necessarily, but he did it so you can’t take it back."
Nene's absence means Trevor Booker, who started for him for 21 games when he was out towards in the end of the regular season with a left knee ligament strain, will be in at power forward again. It also means Drew Gooden will move up in the rotation as well and have to log his most minutes of the series.
"We're more than capable with who we have on this team," coach Randy Wittman said of filling the void. "That can happen to anyone. Somebody can come in sick tomorrow. I know it sounds cliche but that's the way it is."