NEW YORK -- Sacramento Kings guard Anthony Peeler was suspended two games without pay by the NBA on Monday for throwing elbows to the midsection and head of Minnesota Timberwolves forward Kevin Garnett in Game 6 of their Western Conference semifinals series.
Peeler hit Garnett in the midsection with 31.2 seconds left in the third quarter of Game 6 in Sacramento on Sunday. With 13.5 seconds left in the quarter, Garnett threw an elbow to Peeler's chest, but Peeler responded by elbowing the league MVP in the head and was ejected.
"The last guy who makes the blow is always the one who gets suspended," Peeler said Sunday.
The Kings beat the Timberwolves 104-87 and forced a deciding seventh game on Wednesday, which Peeler will miss. Rodney Buford, who played one minute in the first five games, scored seven points in the fourth quarter Sunday and will be counted on once again to give Sacramento a boost in Game 7.
"I'm going to stay ready. [Sacramento coach] Rick Adelman knows it," Buford said at practice Monday. The players had left the Kings' practice facility by the time the suspension was announced.
Buford said Peeler was in good spirits during practice even though he expected a suspension was coming.
"He's AP -- he's always upbeat," Buford said. "He acted like nothing happened. It's just playoff basketball."
Garnett was fined $7,500 for hitting Peeler in the chest with an elbow.
The second game of Peeler's suspension will be either Game 1 of the Western Conference finals against the Lakers should the Kings win on Wednesday, or the first game of the 2004-05 regular season if the Kings lose.
"I'm surprised that it was a little dirty," Garnett said. "I played with him a couple years, so I know what kind of player he is. It was surprising, but I wasn't going to let anybody just hit me. Never have, never will."
Both players received technical fouls, but Peeler -- one of only seven Kings who see regular action -- was ejected.
"It was retaliation after he hit me with an elbow," Peeler said
after the game. "It's always the guy that responds that is the
one that gets suspended or ejected. So if I get suspended or
ejected, I think that he should as well."
Minnesota coach Flip Saunders described Peeler and Garnett as
"the best of friends."
"I hope they still are," Saunders said. "AP competes and goes hard. He hits KG, KG retaliates and AP throws a punch. I've had AP for eight years and I know he plays hard."
Information from SportsTicker and The Associated Press was used in this report.