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Rockets-Jazz scuffle: Kris Dunn (two games), Jabari Smith Jr. (one game) suspended after their second fight

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Sometimes, two NBA players just plain don’t like each other. That appears to be the case between Jabari Smith Jr. of the Houston Rockets and Kris Dunn of the Utah Jazz. On Saturday, the two of them got into their second scuffle of the season and needed to be separated.

Let’s wind the clocks back to January. With Houston leading 78-74, Smith attempted to rebound a missed 3-pointer by Fred VanVleet. He fails, and as Utah goes on the offensive, Dunn hit Smith with a hard screen as he attempted to turn around and get back on defense. Smith didn’t like that, and the two of them got into a shoving match.

Both were assessed technical fouls, but neither were ejected. 

On Saturday, however, things got a bit more heated. As the Rockets walked the ball up the court at the beginning of the second quarter, Dunn and Smith got into it again. This time, they both took swings at one another. They were quickly separated and summarily ejected once the dust settled. After the game, Dunn said that they “exchanged a couple words, a couple pushes and the next thing you know, we’re ejected.”

On Sunday, the NBA issued discipline for the altercation. Dunn has been suspended two games for “initiating an altercation and throwing a punch” at Smith, while Smith has been suspended one game for fighting with Dunn.

While Utah has fallen out of the playoff race, Houston’s recent surge makes Smith’s suspension somewhat significant. The Rockets are 9-1 in their past 10 games and have gotten back to .500 as of this writing. They sit only two games behind the Golden State Warriors in the loss column for the No. 10 seed in the Western Conference, and Houston’s next game comes on Monday against the Portland Trail Blazers. That’s a winnable game on paper, but the Blazers beat the Rockets the last time they faced off in Houston. Now, the Rockets will have to play that game without Smith.

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