EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. - Nets coach Lionel Hollins knew Kevin Garnett would certainly be suspended for his head-butting of the Rockets' Dwight Howard on Monday night. But the coach didn't have a guess as to how long his starting power forward would be banished. Coach and player got the news Tuesday, as the NBA announced Garnett would be suspended one game. He will miss Wednesday night's home game against Hollins' former team, the Memphis Grizzlies.
The NBA fined Howard $15,000 "for pushing Garnett in the neck area."
Garnett rarely talks to the media these days, and he declined to do so Tuesday. So Hollins was left to answer the question of what got into Garnett when he drove his forehead into Howard's jaw after the two exchanged unpleasantries in the first quarter of the Rockets' win.
"Man, it's an emotional game," Hollins said. "I'm not getting into why he did what he did, but it's an emotional game. And you compete, and things happen. Tempers flare up a little bit, and then you have to pay the consequences when it's over."
The Rockets were bringing the ball up as Howard and Garnett battled for position in the low block. As the pass came in to Howard, Garnett reached over and slapped at it and was called for a foul.
After the play was stopped, Garnett gave Howard a little push and Howard then swung his arm around and slapped Garnett in the chest, which seemed to incense the 38-year-old veteran.
Garnett, who had ended up with the ball on the play, threw the ball at Howard, hitting him in the back. The two men squared off, and Garnett then stepped forward and head-butted Howard in the jaw. Howard reacted by slapping Garnett in the jaw.
Both players were given technical fouls, though Howard received only one tech, and Garnett was assessed two, meaning an automatic ejection.
Hollins said it will be difficult to face Memphis' duo of big men Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol without Garnett. "It'd have been tough with him, but it'll be tougher" without Garnett, Hollins said.
The coach said Brook Lopez will start in Garnett's place.
Deron still in pain. Deron Williams spoke with reporters for the first time since he left the Jan. 7 game against the Celtics with a rib injury. Williams said though he is feeling a little better, his ribs are "still pretty sore."
He said he doesn't know how he was injured and hasn't been given a timetable for a return. However, he said, he has not been exercising, and it hurts to breathe, sneeze or cough. He said he can laugh a little, but not hard.
Williams said he has been told the injury is "fractured rib cartilage," but added, "I didn't know you could fracture cartilage." Hollins said with Williams out indefinitely, he has spoken to general manager Billy King about the team acquiring a point guard to back up Jarrett Jack.