Hawks guard Dennis Schroder said he was simply fighting through a screen when he struck DeMarcus Cousins in the groin — a move the Kings center called a “cheap shot.”
The incident occurred in the fourth quarter of the Hawks’ 105-100 victory in Sacramento on Tuesday night. Schroder’s left hand hit Cousins, who doubled over, further complicating Schroder’s attempt to get around him.
“I was guarding Isaiah Thomas, and we got tangled up as I was trying to get around the screen,” Schroder said. “I was just focused on getting back into position and in front of my guy.”
The incident drew attention following Cousins’ postgame remarks and when Kings minority owner Shaquille O’Neal took to social media. O’Neal tweeted video of the incident.
Hawks coach Mike Budenholzer defended his rookie.
“I have been able to see the play from a few different angles,” Budenholzer said. “Dennis was just trying to get over the pick that Cousins set. They got tangled up for a second, which happens all the time defending the pick and roll.”
Cousins clearly was frustrated during the game. He and Schroder collided earlier in a similar situation. Cousins later fouled Al Horford, originally called a flagrant, but downgraded after an officials review.
“I took a cheap shot to my lower area,” Cousins told reporters after the game. “(The referees) just blew it off. I guess because it was me.”
The play could be reviewed by the NBA.