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Karl-Anthony Towns of the Minnesota Timberwolves and Joel Embiid of the Philadelphia 76ers have been suspended two games each without pay because of a fight on Wednesday night in Philadelphia.
The league office, in announcing the suspensions on Thursday, said that Embiid and Towns had received the punishment “for their roles in an on-court altercation and for their continued escalation after the incident.”
The fight between Embiid and Towns, in which they wrestled each other to the floor, came with 6 minutes 42 seconds left in the third quarter of Philadelphia’s 117-95 win. The 76ers’ Ben Simmons, who appeared to hold Towns down on the floor after the initial skirmish, avoided punishment because the league deemed him a peacemaker in the conflict.
Embiid played to the crowd at Wells Fargo Center after he and Towns were ejected. Later that night both players exchanged multiple barbs with vulgar language on Twitter and Instagram, including Towns’s mocking Embiid for crying after the Sixers were eliminated from last season’s postseason and Embiid’s taunting Towns by posting, “I OWN YOU.”
At 2:48 a.m. Eastern time on Thursday, Embiid tweeted that he was “done talking trash.”
Shortly after the suspensions were announced, Gersson Rosas, Minnesota’s president of basketball operations, released a statement: “While we are disappointed with the league’s decision, we understand the magnitude of this unfortunate incident. The N.B.A. is highly competitive and last night was a reflection of that. We support Karl and will move forward together as a group.”
ESPN reported earlier on Thursday that the Timberwolves had disputed the characterization of Simmons as a peacemaker, a description that Wednesday night’s lead referee, Mark Ayotte, used in a postgame interview with a pool reporter. Minnesota contended that Simmons had Towns locked in a “dangerous chokehold.”
Embiid will miss Saturday’s game in Portland and Monday’s in Phoenix, losing $379,374 in salary. Towns will miss games on Saturday in Washington and on Monday against Milwaukee, losing $376,345 in salary.