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WASHINGTON - The running feud between Etan Thomas and Brendan Haywood escalated with another exchange of blows, leading to a two-game suspension for Thomas and leaving the Washington Wizards thin along the frontcourt.
Thomas was suspended for throwing a punch at Haywood during practice Friday. Thomas was retaliating for what he believed was an intentional elbow.
"This cat decides to hit me with a cheap shot during practice and I reacted," Thomas told The Washington Post. "I could have turned the other cheek. I guess I didn't."
Thomas and Haywood, who have been competing for playing time at center, have clashed several times. They fought in the locker room on Nov. 2 and had another altercation last season.
After Saturday's practice, coach Eddie Jordan was asked if the latest scuffle is a distraction to the team.
"For the moment, yes. But after everything is said and done and everything is taken care of, no," Jordan said. "We had a morning meeting, watched film, moved on to practice and we had a very good practice today. We addressed various things at the meeting."
Thomas, averaging 6.0 points and 5.6 rebounds, will miss games Sunday against Portland and Wednesday at Philadelphia. He will not practice with the team during the suspension.
Thomas won the starting center's job over Haywood during training camp, but Thomas sprained his ankle in early December and missed 13 games. Haywood became the starter and has stayed in the role since Thomas' return.
The Wizards, who have lost three of four, also are without injured forward Antawn Jamison (knee). However, forward Michael Ruffin, who has played only 10 games this season because of a foot injury, could return in a limited role Sunday.
"Michael seems ready to be play," Jordan said. "We had two days of practice, the first day we wanted to get him through the first half of practice. Today we wanted him to get through the entire practice. He feels good and looks good."