Odom suspended for one game

Updated: March 10, 2009, 9:07 PM ET
ESPN.com news services

Los Angeles Lakers forward Lamar Odom will take the hit for his role in a scrum with the Portland Trail Blazers on Monday night.

Odom
Odom
Fernandez
Fernandez

The NBA announced on Tuesday that Odom will serve a one-game suspension without pay for leaving the vicinity of the bench during the altercation. He will serve the suspension when the Lakers play at Houston on Wednesday.

The incident occurred after Lakers forward Trevor Ariza delivered a hard foul on Blazers rookie Rudy Fernandez in the third quarter of Portland's 111-94 victory. Fernandez spent the night in the hospital with a bruised chest and injured right hip. The swingman was released from the hospital Tuesday afternoon. He was listed as doubtful for Portland's game against Dallas on Wednesday night.

NBA officials reviewed the play but determined Tuesday that Ariza will not face further discipline beyond his third-quarter ejection for a flagrant foul 2.

Fernandez was fouled on a fast break and landed awkwardly. The Spaniard was taken from the court on a stretcher with his neck in a brace. The teams scuffled and the Blazers were assessed two technical fouls.

Blazers teammate Sergio Rodriguez, who is also from Spain and one of Fernandez's closest friends, spent the night at the hospital.

"He couldn't breathe, and that scared himself, but he was OK," Rodriguez said.

The two watched the game at the hospital because Fernandez wanted to see what happened after he left. Fernandez was in good spirits.

"He couldn't laugh a lot because it hurt," Rodriguez said.

Fernandez, who played on Spain's silver medal-winning Olympic team, is averaging 10.4 points, 2.8 rebounds and 2.1 assists this season.

Known for his no-look passes, alley-oop dunks and behind-back-dribbles, fans at the Rose Garden often chant "Rudy! Rudy! Rudy!" when he enters a game. Some female fans have taken to wearing "I [heart] Rudy" T-shirts.

Fernandez was lured to Portland from DKV Joventut Badalona of the Spanish ACB League. He became something of an Internet sensation this summer when he dunked over Dwight Howard at the Olympics. The U.S. team won the gold medal with a victory over Spain in the final.

Against the Lakers, Fernandez hit a 3-pointer late in the third quarter that gave the Blazers an 81-51 lead. Moments later, he was driving down the floor. As he leaped toward the basket, Ariza fouled him from behind, knocking him down.

Fernandez curled up in pain at the base of the basket. Portland's trainers rushed to his aid, and his teammates tussled with the Lakers. Odom appeared to leave the bench, although he later denied it.

Lakers center Pau Gasol stayed out of the fray with his eyes on Fernandez. The two were Olympic teammates.

"It was an unfortunate play, and an unfortunate fall," Gasol said.

Ariza was contrite after the game, apologizing to Fernandez.

"It wasn't anything I was trying to do. I wasn't trying to hurt him," he said. "I was just trying to make a play on the ball."

At the Blazers' practice facility Tuesday in Tualatin, coach Nate McMillan would not comment on the NBA's decision not to penalize Ariza further.

"That's a dangerous play," he said. "That's all I'm going to say."

Brandon Roy said he made it a point not to get involved because of the team's push to make the playoffs for the first time since the 2002-03 season. Portland and Utah shared the Northwest Division entering Tuesday night.

"The race is too tight to miss any games," Roy said.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

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