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NBA suspends Artest for Game 3

Johnny Ludden
Yahoo Sports

LOS ANGELES – The NBA has suspended Ron Artest(notes) for Friday's Game 3 of the Los Angeles Lakers' Western Conference semifinal series with the Dallas Mavericks after the Lakers forward hit Mavericks guard J.J. Barea(notes) in the face Wednesday night.

The incident occurred in the closing seconds of Game 2 when Artest stalked Barea from across the court and swung his right arm at the Mavs guard, hitting him flush in the face. Artest received his second technical of the game and was immediately ejected.

The Lakers were expecting the suspension.

"It was uncalled for," Lakers coach Phil Jackson said of Artest's foul.

The league also classified Artest's hit as a flagrant two foul. If Artest receives another two flagrant points in the playoffs – via either a flagrant two foul or two flagrant ones – he will be suspended for another game.

The suspension further weakens the Lakers as they head to Dallas trailing the Mavericks 2-0 in the series. Only three teams in NBA history have ever rallied to win a best-of-seven series after losing the first two games at home.

The Lakers are expected to start Matt Barnes(notes) in place of Artest. Luke Walton(notes), who has yet to appear in a playoff game this season, also could receive some playing time. Prior to this, the Lakers have made only one other change to their starting lineup this season: Lamar Odom replacing Andrew Bynum when Bynum was injured or suspended.

This isn't the first time Artest has been suspended for a playoff game. He also missed a game in the Sacramento Kings' 2006 first-round playoff series after hitting Manu Ginobili(notes) in the head with his forearm.

Artest didn't have much to say about the suspension when meeting with reporters after the Lakers' practice on Thursday.

"Ready to move forward," he said.

Artest received the NBA's citizenship award last week.