You don't often see two NBA players butting heads, Brahma-bull style, but Washington Wizards big man Nene and Chicago Bulls swingman Jimmy Butler aren't your typical NBA players. The two squared off in the fourth quarter of their teams' Game 3 affair on Friday night, pressing their heads together and jawing for several seconds before Nene grabbed the younger and shorter Butler's head and took a semi-swing at the Bull, earning an ejection.
Nene had been jawing with the Bulls all night from both the court and the bench. His lockdown defense on Joakim Noah has been a huge part of this series and Washington's Game 3 turn, and after Butler took offense to Nene's semi-shove following a made basket, the Brazilian forward/center decided to go all in on playing the role of the enforcer. Butler, who played all 53 minutes of Chicago's overtime Game 2 loss, did not back down, and it took referee Jason Phillips and several Washington and Chicago teammates to separate the two.
Because of Nene's aggression throughout the altercation, he received the hook instead of Butler, ending his night with 8:20 left to go in regulation. The Washington crowd was obviously upset at Nene receiving the harsher treatment, especially as Butler (who earned a technical foul) went on to nail a 3-pointer in the game's next possession, but the referees were spot on in their summation: Nene could possibly receive a one-game suspension if the NBA deems his shove a punch, though this is probably unlikely.
The Bulls were up two points at the time of the incident, with D.J. Augustin missing the technical free throw allotted to the team in the wake of the ejection. Nene finished with 10 points on 5-of-15 shooting, and five turnovers. Butler ended his night with 15 points on 3-of-7 shooting, including two killer late-game 3-pointers. Chicago won 100-97. Washington still leads the series 2-1.
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