BRIAN MAHONEY, AP Basketball Writer
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) — Kevin Garnett was suspended one game without pay Tuesday by the NBA for head-butting Dwight Howard, who received only a fine when the league ruled he didn’t retaliate with a punch.
Howard was fined $15,000, the league announced in saying he pushed Garnett in the neck.
NBA President of Basketball Operations Rod Thorn determined that Garnett initiated the altercation in the Rockets’ 113-99 victory over Brooklyn on Monday night.
“It’s an emotional game,” Nets coach Lionel Hollins said Tuesday after practice. “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.”
Garnett will miss the Nets’ game against Memphis on Wednesday night, leaving Hollins without his starting power forward against his former team, led by Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph.
“It’s going to be tough,” Hollins said. “It would have been tough with him, but it’s going to be tougher.”
The altercation began with 7:53 left in the first quarter after Garnett fouled Howard. The two exchanged light shoves before Garnett threw the ball into Howard’s back. After they came face to face, Garnett slammed his head into the area near Howard’s mouth, and Howard responded by throwing his right hand into Garnett’s neck.
Garnett was ejected and Howard received a technical foul. Hollins was angry that Howard wasn’t thrown out, believing he had thrown a punch. He still felt that way Tuesday, which would have meant Howard would miss his return to Orlando on Wednesday.
“That’s my opinion and like I said last night, it doesn’t matter what I think,” Hollins said.
Garnett, who did not speak to reporters, will lose about $109,000 of his $12 million salary. Hollins said Brook Lopez would start in his place alongside Mason Plumlee.
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