NBA: Artest suspended for Game 3 of Lakers-Mavs series
AP Sports Writer
DALLAS (AP) – Lakers forward Ron Artest has been suspended from Game 3 of a second-round series against the Mavericks on Friday night for hitting Dallas guard J.J. Barea in the face with a forearm.
Los Angeles, already down 0-2, now will be playing a pivotal game without its starting small forward.
“No reaction,” Artest said Thursday in Los Angeles, prior to boarding a team flight to Dallas. “I’m just ready to move forward and play basketball.”
Barea was dribbing around Los Angeles’ Lamar Odom with 24 seconds left in a game that had already been decided when Artest moved in and swung a forearm at the guard’s head. Artest was ejected immediately. The league said Thursday he also would be assessed a flagrant foul. An accumulation of flagrant foul points could lead to another suspension.
“Not surprised,” Lakers coach Phil Jackson said.
The Lakers lost both games at home to open the series. Only three teams in NBA history have recovered from such a start to win a seven-game series.
Artest’s defensive presence and tenacity make him a big part of the Lakers’ scheme. He’s started all 90 games for Los Angeles in the regular season and postseason. In this series, he played 31 minutes in each of the first two games, averaging 6.5 points.
“We’ve just got a big game tomorrow,” Artest said. “There’s nothing more important than Game 3.”
Asked whether he let his team down, Artest again said, “We’re just moving forward.”
Odom or Matt Barnes likely will start in his place. Jackson may prefer going with Barnes so Odom, the NBA’s Sixth Man of the Year this season, can remain in his reserve role. Luke Walton, who hasn’t gotten off the bench in eight games this postseason, probably will pick up some minutes in the shuffle.
“His presence will be missed,” Odom said. “I haven’t played small forward in a couple of years, but I’ll adjust and I’ll try to impact the game wherever I am on the court. I’ll be ready.”
Kobe Bryant said without Artest in the lineup the Lakers must do “the same thing we have to do with him – defend and rebound the ball.”
Artest will lose more than $57,000 because he was suspended without pay. He’s expected to return for Game 4 on Sunday.
Artest is no stranger to suspensions. As the primary figure in the 2004 brawl between the Pacers and Pistons in Detroit, he was forced to sit out 73 regular-season games and 13 more in the playoffs, the longest suspension for an on-court incident in league history. His last punishment came at the start of the 2007-08 season, when he played for Sacramento.
On Wednesday night, Artest picked up another technical foul long before smacking Barea. Jackson said he thought that “was a poor call.”
“I said that we’d try to get that one rescinded because that was a missed call in that process,” Jackson said.