When the Los Angeles Clippers take on the Toronto Raptors at the Air Canada Centre on Friday night, they'll do so without key reserve Matt Barnes, whom the NBA has suspended without pay for one game for perpetrating this aggressive bit of throat violence against Minnesota Timberwolves center Greg Stiemsma during L.A.'s 96-90 win in Minneapolis on Wednesday:
The play earned Barnes a flagrant foul-2 and an immediate ejection, and yeah, you can understand why he'll miss four more quarters of run — you pretty clearly can't just forearm dudes in the throat. Especially league-office favorites like Greg Stiemsma — NBA Executive Vice President of Basketball Operations Stu Jackson will own you if you mess with his binkies.
After Wednesday's game, Barnes and Stiemsma discussed the second-quarter incident (separately, of course) with Jon Krawczynski of the Associated Press:
"He hit me with a couple of dirty picks early on and I told him to watch it, then he laughed and he hit me with another one," Barnes said. "I kind of lost my control, which I apologized to the team for. There's no excuse for that, but luckily it sparked the team." [...]
"He kind of ran through me on the first one, so I figured he'd do the same on the second one," Stiemsma said. "I didn't know he was going to take it that far. That's what I'm out there to do, set screens and be physical, and some guys just take it over the top."
Yeah, that's a pretty accurate description of Barnes. As I wrote in briefly touching on the play yesterday, bringing toughness and edge to the floor is arguably just as important a part of Barnes' role on the Clippers as his sticky defense, transition offense and 3-point shooting. Still, I'm willing to bet Vinny Del Negro would've preferred Barnes dial things down just a bit if it meant having one of his top second-unit pieces available tonight — especially if new Toronto addition Rudy Gay is available to play, which he might be, given reports that the trio of players the Memphis Grizzlies received in exchange for him earlier this week will be eligible for Memphis' Friday night matchup with the Washington Wizards.
Having one more big, quick, physical defender to throw on the Raptors' new top wing option sure would be nice; maybe next time you'll think about that before throat-forearming someone, Mr. Barnes.
If the clip above isn't rocking for you, please feel free to check out the dry-gulch elsewhere, thanks to cshulme.