Suns centerwas suspended today for one game without pay for making contact with an official in the second quarter of Phoenix’s loss to the Raptors on Tuesday night. Lopez will serve his suspension Friday night in Portland.
Lopez reacted viscerally to what he felt was a foul on Andrea Bargnani when Lopez received the ball in the post and glared at referee Rodney Mott after being whistled for an unnecessary foul on the other end. At the next timeout, Lopez bumped into Mott while walking off the court toward the Phoenix bench. Mott attempted to get out of Lopez’s way, from the look of the video, but Lopez made no effort to avoid Mott and was immediately ejected.
While Lopez has seen his minutes per game drop to the lowest level since his rookie year, the Suns will feel the effects of this suspension. Without Lopez to back up Gortat, Phoenix will be thin at center against a Blazers team with one of the elite front lines in the game. Extended playing time for Gortat (playing just under 31 minutes per game on the season) isn’t a bad thing by any means; his play is at a career-best level currently, and his conditioning is a blessing in a compressed season. However, the Suns play again on Saturday night — when they’ll have Lopez back — against the Grizzlies and Marc Gasol. Fatigue for Gortat could become an issue.
The suspension will likely necessitate playingat center on Friday night to rest Gortat, potentially increasing the Suns’ reliance on and at the power forward position.
Bad news, all in all, for the Suns and Lopez on the same day that the team chose not to offer an extension to their backup center.