Dennis Schroder, P.J. Tucker ejected from Thunder-Rockets Game 5
Dennis Schroder led the Thunder with 19 points Saturday night despite being ejected midway through the third quarter.
Rockets center P.J. Tucker set a screen on Schroder to free James Harden, and as Schroder fought through the screen, Schroder's right arm went between Tucker's legs and Schroder caught Tucker with a shot below the belt.
Billy Donovan didn't speculate about Schroder's intent after the Thunder's 114-80 Game 5 loss to the Rockets.
"I think it was such a bang-bang play, Dennis was just trying to find a way to get around the screen," Donovan said. "Certainly it was an illegal screen, and he got hung up."
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Schroder shared his side Sunday.
"It's unfortunate that I went between his legs, but for me, it's not on purpose," Schroder said. "It shouldn't be a Flagrant 2. Me and Tucker, we've been knowing each other since 2012 when we played in Germany together. We're competitors. We try to go out there and compete as hard as we can. My family didn't raise me that way, to hurt somebody intentionally. I would never do that."
Both players fell after the collision, and Schroder immediately got up to talk to a referee. Tucker, standing behind Schroder, gave Schroder a slight head butt. Thunder center Steven Adams separated Tucker from Schroder.
"P.J. wouldn't have reacted the way he did if it was nothing, if it was a regular foul," Harden said.
After review, both Schroder and Tucker were ejected. The NBA announced Sunday that both were fined $25,000.
"I don't know if they felt like they needed to eject Dennis because they ejected P.J.," Donovan said, "but it was a very, very quick, aggressive play."
Rockets coach Mike D'Antoni was also asked about the play.
"Y'all saw it as well as I did," D'Antoni said. "I didn't see any of it happen in real time. Got P.J. in a tough spot. I don't know if it was a punch or inadvertent, who knows. And then P.J. did kind of tap him on the back of his head, with his head. I don't have a whole lot to say. It's unfortunate for both teams, but it does happen. It is the playoffs."
ESPN's Tim MacMahon reported after the game that the Rockets want the NBA to investigate the play, given what happened in Game 3 when Chris Paul struck Ben McLemore below the belt. Paul was assessed an offensive foul, but D'Antoni wanted the play reviewed for a possible flagrant foul.