Nenê has been suspended one game by the league and will not be allowed to play in Game 4 of the Wizards' first-round playoff series against the Chicago Bulls on Sunday after he was ejected from Game 3 on Friday night following an altercation with Jimmy Butler.
The league ruled Nenê was suspended "for head-butting and grabbing" Butler and "attempting to throw him down," according to a press release announcing the decision.
Because it is the playoffs, Nenê was hit with an automatic $6,000 fine – $2,000 for each technical foul, plus an additional $2,000 for being ejected. League rules stipulate that an ejected player is subject to a fine not exceeding $50,000 and/or a suspension.
The altercation began shortly after the Bulls' D.J. Augustin missed a three-pointer with 8:35 remaining. Wizards guard Martell Webster collected the rebound and passed the ball to Andre Miller, who made a long pass to a streaking Nenê on the other end of the court for an easy lay-up with 8:30 to play.
Nenê began to jog back up the court when he elbowed Butler in the left side of his back, and Butler appeared to say something to Nenê that caused him to turn around in anger. Nenê lowered his forehead into Butler's, and the two men stared eye-to-eye and exchanged words before Nenê grabbed Butler by the back of the neck with his right hand.
He then used his left hand to push Butler's head down before Wizards forward Trevor Booker, Bulls center Joakim Noah and official Jason Phillips began trying to separate the two men. Nenê then cocked his right arm as if to consider throwing a punch, but he was backed further away from by Phillips and fellow official James Capers before team security officer Jackie Miles escorted Nenê back to the Wizards' bench.
Nenê waved his arms toward the crowd to generate excitement, then sat down, exhaled and smiled during the Bulls' timeout. After a two-minute review, officials hit Nenê with a double technical, leading to his ejection, and assessed a technical foul on Butler.
"When you play physical, both ways, things get hot," Nenê, who was not permitted to speak to reporters by the team following practice on Sunday, said after the game. "But, you know, it's over, and no way to be but the whole team thinking of Game 4 and step forward and take series."
Nenê missed 29 games this season because of a variety of injuries, including a sprained MCL in his left knee that cost him 21 games from late February through early April. He returned to the starting lineup for Game 1 of the playoffs and has averaged 17 points and 6.3 rebounds in 34.7 minutes during the series.
Trevor Booker, who replaced Nenê in the starting lineup from the time of the injury through the regular season, figures to do so again on Sunday. Booker has played nearly 22 minutes off the bench during the series, but aside from his nine points and eight rebounds in Game 2 on Tuesday, he had just three points in Game 1 and two points in Game 3.
"I just have to step up more, and we'll see how it goes," Booker said. "If he's out, then somebody else got to step. We know how to play without him. He's a big piece, but we had some games without him that we won."
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