The Minnesota Timberwolves picked up a pivotal win on Sunday against the Pelicans to leap New Orleans in the West standings and land the 8-seed, meaning they’ll get two shots at a playoff berth via the play-in tournament.
Unfortunately for Minnesota, the talk after the game was about everything but the win, as it came at a cost. Key wing defender Jaden McDaniels punched a wall and fractured his right hand, all-but assuring his absence from the play-in and much of the postseason should they make it that far. Prior to that, Rudy Gobert and Kyle Anderson got into an argument on the bench during a timeout that eventually saw Gobert punch Anderson in the chest after being told to “shut up, bitch,” with teammates quickly pushing Gobert away and separating the two.
ESPN Sources: Minnesota’s Rudy Gobert escalated a verbal argument to a physical encounter after Kyle Anderson told him to “Shut the f— up, bitch.” The disagreement started with Anderson telling Gobert to block some shots, Gobert telling him to grab a rebound – and ended with a…
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) April 9, 2023
While nothing further happened on the court, the altercation apparently wasn’t over, as the two met again shortly after in the locker room at halftime where the exchange reportedly continued, via Shams Charania and Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic, and Anderson proclaimed he would “knock your ass out.”
The tension between Gobert and Anderson spilled over to the halftime locker room as well, with the two having a heated verbal exchange, multiple sources with direct knowledge of the events have told The Athletic. Anderson and Gobert confronted each other, and multiple sources said Anderson challenged the center at one point saying, “I’ll knock your a– out.” Teammates quickly separated them before anything turned physical. Timberwolves veteran Mike Conley Jr. served as a vital factor in calming down the halftime locker room, according to those sources.
This obviously isn’t ideal for a team hoping to make a run into the playoffs, but Gobert did issue an apology on Twitter and the team will hope fences can be mended quickly, as they play in L.A. on Tuesday night.
Emotions got the best of me today. I should not have reacted the way i did regardless of what was said. I wanna apologize to the fans, the organisation and particularly to Kyle, who is someone that i truly love and respect as a teammate.
— Rudy Gobert (@rudygobert27) April 10, 2023
As for Gobert’s status for the game in L.A., the Timberwolves’ brass did not make any commitments either way regarding any further punishment for Gobert beyond him being sent home at halftime. It was notable that without Gobert the Timberwolves played better and rallied from a double-digit deficit to beat the Pelicans, which means a suspension is both not out of the realm of possibilities and wouldn’t necessarily be a total forfeiture against the Lakers.