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Timberwolves suspend Rudy Gobert one game for punching teammate, he will miss play-in vs. Lakers

Minnesota didn’t expect to be in the Play-In Tournament after trading for Rudy Gobert last summer, now they are going to have to go into that tournament without him.

The Timberwolves have suspended Gobert for one game for punching teammate Kyle Anderson on the bench Sunday in the final game of the regular season. He did not travel with the team to Los Angeles to face the Lakers in the 7/8 West play-in game.

Gobert and Anderson were arguing — reportedly about blown defensive coverages — and despite coach Chris Finch sitting between them, Gobert reached over Finch and punched Anderson in the chest. The duo were separated, and Gobert returned to the locker room, where the argument reportedly continued during halftime. Gobert ultimately was sent home for the game, which the Timberwolves went on to win anyway to secure the No.8 seed. Gobert later apologized on Twitter.

Stepping over the line like that still forces a team response, and a one-game suspension fits. This is a team, not a league suspension.

Minnesota is already without backup big man Naz Reid due to a fractured left wrist, leaving Karl-Anthony Towns as the only true center on the roster. The Timberwolves also will be without elite defender Jaden McDaniels for the game after he fractured his hand punching a wall in frustration near the end of the first half.

That’s a lot of critical front-line players to be missing against a Lakers team with size up front and playing well.

If the Timberwolves beat the Lakers, they would advance to the playoffs as the No.7 seed. Lose and Friday night they will host the winner of the Thunder at Pelicans, with the winner of that Friday game advancing to the playoffs against the Nuggets on Sunday.