Minnesota Timberwolves center Rudy Gobert missed Minnesota’s AT&T Play-In Tournament opener after being suspended one game by the team, the team announced Monday. The Timberwolves lost to the Los Angeles Lakers, 108-102 in overtime, as they missed out on their chance to grab the No. 7 seed in the Western Conference.
Gobert is available to play in Friday’s Play-In game in Minneapolis, which will pit the Wolves against the winner of the No. 8 vs. No. 9 seed game on Wednesday. The Oklahoma City Thunder visit the New Orleans Pelicans in that game (9:30 p.m. ET, ESPN).
NEWS: The Minnesota @Timberwolves today announced the team has suspended center Rudy Gobert for one game following yesterday’s incident.
Full release: https://t.co/YFuVmjTvhO
— Timberwolves PR (@Twolves_PR) April 10, 2023
— Jon Krawczynski (@JonKrawczynski) April 10, 2023
Gobert will serve a one-game suspension and is expected to return if the Wolves lose to the Lakers and play another play-in game, or advance into the Western Conference playoffs, sources said. https://t.co/JMSdwm7P2o
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) April 10, 2023
The Wolves were decidedly shorthanded against the Lakers, but they gave an inspired effort for the first three quarters while playing without starters Gobert and Jaden McDaniels. McDaniels is out indefinitely with a broken hand after punching a wall in frustration Sunday.
Gobert threw a punch at teammate Kyle Anderson during a timeout in the second quarter Sunday against New Orleans. He raised his arm toward Anderson and appeared to hit him in the chest with his hand while the team was in a huddle during a timeout. Coaches and players separated the two and Gobert was escorted to the locker room.
“I think tempers just flared,” Anderson said afterward. “That’s all.”
Anderson said he didn’t think the two would have trouble getting along moving forward.
“We want to win games. It is what it is. It ain’t the first time someone has swung on me,” he said.
Emotions got the best of me today. I should not have reacted the way i did regardless of what was said. I wanna apologize to the fans, the organisation and particularly to Kyle, who is someone that i truly love and respect as a teammate.
— Rudy Gobert (@rudygobert27) April 10, 2023
President of basketball operations Tim Connelly issued a statement confirming the Timberwolves decided to send Gobert home after the second quarter flap:
“We made the decision to send Rudy Gobert home after the incident in the second quarter. His behavior on the bench was unacceptable and we will continue handling the situation internally.”
The Wolves beat the Pelicans 113-108 to finish in eighth place in the Western Conference draw their Play-In matchup with the Los Angeles Lakers by moving ahead of New Orleans in the standings. They were headed to a loss and the lower seed with a lifeless first half.
After Anthony Edwards settled for a step-back 3-pointer that fell short, the Pelicans raced the other way for a dunk by Brandon Ingram for a 48-36 lead that triggered a timeout by Wolves coach Chris Finch with 4:23 remaining before halftime.
Anderson, a fiery but respected leader who has given the Wolves a big boost with his versatility and experience in his first season with the team, engaged in a heated discussion with Gobert about one of the many sequences that had gone wrong to that point.
Gobert then ended the argument by raising his arm to strike Anderson, before the two were separated and Gobert was taken back to the locker room.
The Wolves announced at halftime that Gobert and defensive ace Jaden McDaniels would not play the rest of the way after he punched the wall.
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.