The NBA suspended Atlanta’s Zaza Pachulia and Orlando’s Jason Richardson for Game 4 of the Eastern Conference playoffs after their altercation in the closing minutes of the third game.
The league’s disciplinarian, vice president Stu Jackson, was on hand at Philips Arena and needed less than 24 hours to announce his decision Saturday.
Pachulia will have to sit out Sunday night’s game for head-butting Richardson and fighting. The Magic player was suspended for shoving Pachulia in the face and fighting. Both will also forfeit one game’s pay.
With about 2 1/2 minutes to go Friday night, Pachulia took exception when Dwight Howard swung his elbow after a hard foul, responding with an elbow of his own. Richardson jumped in and was head-butted several times by Pachulia as they jawed with each other. Richardson responded with a slap to Pachulia’s face before Howard pulled away his teammate.
Pachulia and Richardson were both ejected, and Howard received a technical. The Hawks won 88-84 to take a 2-1 lead in the series.
The NBA announced no punishment against Howard.
The Magic will go into a potentially pivotal game without their third-leading scorer in the playoffs (8.7 points a game) and one of their main defenders on Atlanta star Joe Johnson.
It’s also a big blow for the Hawks, who will miss Pachulia’s emotional style and defensive presence against Howard, Orlando’s top player.