HOUSTON -- The NBA announced Monday night that it had suspended Houston Rockets guard James Harden for one game without pay for kicking Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James in the groin during Sunday's game won by the Rockets in overtime.
Harden, who said after the game that he didn't believe he would be disciplined by the league, didn't speak with reporters Monday and left with the team for Tuesday's game at Atlanta.
On Sunday, he said the kick, which occurred in the third quarter, was more of a reaction to what was happening after he fell to the floor while getting double-teamed by James Jones and James. With Harden on his back, he kicked James in the groin.
Harden was given a flagrant foul 1 for kicking James.
"It's a reaction," Harden said after the game. "They called a flagrant. Next play we moved on."
It's not the first time the league has suspended a player for kicking someone in the groin.
In the 2012-13 season, Miami Heat guard Dwyane Wade was suspended one game for kicking Ramon Sessions in the groin. During the 2006 Western Conference semifinals, Jason Terry, then of the Dallas Mavericks, punched Michael Finley of the San Antonio Spurs in the groin during a scrum for a loose ball. Terry was suspended for one game, missing Game 6.
In Sunday's game, there were five technical fouls called, the flagrant on Harden, 16 fouls in the third quarter and several brief scrums, including one between James and Rockets guard Patrick Beverley, who was pushed down to the floor as he tried to get back up.
"It was a pretty intense game that started off with a little scrum on the floor in front of our bench with Pat and LeBron," Houston coach Kevin McHale said Monday. "It just kind of stayed kind of chippy all game long, which is fine. Some games are chippy like that."
The Harden kick angered the Cavs.
"It was an intentional groin kick," Jones said. "It was an intentional kick to a troublesome area."
Added James: "Obviously that's not a basketball play. Obviously the league will probably take a look at it. I have no idea why he would do that, but two competitors just trying to go at it and he won this one."
Several Rockets players were hit hard in the game, including Harden, the NBA's leading scorer.
The Rockets, who have won five consecutive games, have moved on to the Hawks, who sit atop the Eastern Conference standings.
"Not even thinking about that because I don't think anything that happened in that game last night for either team warrants anybody to miss a game," Terry said. "So not even thinking about down that line."
Tuesday's suspension will mark Harden's first missed game of the 2014-15 season.