(Reuters) - Houston Rockets guard James Harden has been suspended one game without pay for kicking Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James in the groin, the NBA announced on Monday.
The incident between the two league most valuable player candidates occurred with 2:08 remaining in the third quarter of the Rockets’ 105-103 overtime victory on Sunday against the Cavaliers in Houston.
Closely guarded by James, Harden lost his footing, fell to the floor and then lifted his left leg and kicked James below the belt.
Harden was assessed a flagrant foul for the incident.
“Obviously that’s not a basketball play,” James told reporters after the game. “I have no idea why he would do that, but two competitors just trying to go at it, and he won this one.”
Harden will serve his suspension on Tuesday when the Rockets travel to Atlanta to play the Hawks.
Reporting by Larry Fine in New York; Editing by Steve Keating