Kobe serves one-game suspension against Bucks

Updated: March 8, 2007, 12:28 PM ET
By Chris Sheridan | ESPN.com

The NBA suspended Lakers guard Kobe Bryant for Wednesday night's game at Milwaukee for making contact with the face of Minnesota Timberwolves guard Marko Jaric on Tuesday night.

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After getting his shot blocked by Jaric, Bryant flailed his arms and caught Jaric in the face with 58.7 seconds left in regulation Tuesday.

Bryant was called for a foul on the play. Bryant struck San Antonio guard Manu Ginobili in the face in similar fashion in the waning seconds of the Lakers' 96-94 overtime loss Jan. 28 against the Spurs.

Bryant was not called for a foul on that play, but was suspended for the Lakers' next game.

"I was very surprised to see a similar type of play occur," NBA vice president Stu Jackson said, adding that he'll likely issue a longer suspension if Bryant makes similar contact in the future.

Bryant was suspended in that incident for what Jackson called driving "a stiff arm backward."

The suspension cost the Lakers. Already short-handed due to injuries to Lamar Odom and Luke Walton, Los Angeles was routed by the Bucks on Wednesday night 110-90.

Jaric said he was surprised that Bryant was suspended.

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"I haven't seen the replay, but if you ask me what I thought about the play when it happened, I don't think he did it intentionally, and I don't think players should be suspended for things that happen unintentionally," Jaric told ESPN.com. "I think he was trying to draw a foul, and he swung his hand out to make it look dramatic, and he hit me by accident. He apologized right after."

But Jackson stands by his decision.

"I'm not in the business of reading players' minds, I'm simply evaluating the play as a basketball play," Jackson told The Associated Press. "And when you take a shot and follow through, followed by driving an arm back in an aggressive manner that strikes a defender in his face, that's what we evaluated to be a non-acceptable play."

Lakers coach Phil Jackson weighed in on the suspension and defended Bryant, who will forfeit about $161,000 in salary for the missed game.

"If they're going to make a call, even if they're wrong, they'll still be consistent," Jackson said before facing the Bucks.

He added, "I think I'm going to have to put about 50 clips of Kobe shooting his shot and his arms going out like that so the judger of this deed of Kobe's sees that he does this a lot," Jackson said. "It's not an unnatural basketball motion."

It is the fifth time that Bryant has been suspended by the NBA. In December 2005, Bryant caught Memphis' Mike Miller with an elbow in the throat and was suspended two games. In March 2002, Bryant had to sit two games for throwing a punch and fighting with Indiana's Reggie Miller at the conclusion of a Lakers-Pacers game. Then in April 2000, Bryant received a one-game suspension for retaliating by throwing a punch against the Knicks' Chris Childs.

Chris Sheridan covers the NBA for ESPN Insider. Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

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