Dennis Schroder, PJ Tucker Fined $25K After Thunder vs. Rockets Game 5 Incident

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistAugust 30, 2020

Houston Rockets' P.J. Tucker, right, confronts Oklahoma City Thunder's Dennis Schroder (17) after a foul during the second half of an NBA basketball first round playoff game Saturday, Aug. 29, 2020, in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. Both players were ejected. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)
Ashley Landis/Associated Press

The NBA fined Oklahoma City Thunder guard Dennis Schroder and Houston Rockets forward P.J. Tucker $25,000 apiece.

Schroder and Tucker were both ejected with 6:51 left in the third quarter of Houston's 114-80 victory Saturday. Schroder appeared to hit Tucker below the belt while running through a screen, and Tucker responded by head-butting Schroder.

Bleacher Report @BleacherReport

PJ Tucker got into Dennis Schroder's face 😳 https://t.co/fe4My9eKWG

In explaining the respective punishments, the NBA said Tucker's actions "did not meet the standard for a head-butt."

Schroder also denied he intentionally hit Tucker in the groin:

Royce Young @royceyoung

Dennis Schroder explaining his Flagrant 2 low blow on PJ Tucker said it wasn't intentional: https://t.co/1CUavxqfKV

The fact both players avoided a suspension is likely to have a bigger impact for the Thunder, who trail the Rockets in the series heading into Game 6 on Monday.

Schroder was instrumental in Oklahoma City's victories in Games 3 and 4, scoring 59 combined points.

The 26-year-old is having one of the best seasons of his career. He averaged 18.9 points and set personal bests for field-goal percentage (46.9) and three-point percentage (38.5). The Thunder need him to contribute in a big way off the bench because they lack a dynamic scorer who can match James Harden shot-for-shot.

This isn't to downplay Tucker's importance to the Rockets. The 6'5" forward has been a pivotal member of the starting lineup since Mike D'Antoni embraced super-small ball. He's averaging 6.8 rebounds in the playoffs,  and he has held his own against Steven Adams despite giving up a lot of size to the 6'11" center.

Houston's typical rotation doesn't go very deep, either. Eight Rockets players saw the floor in the aforementioned Games 3 and 4, the first going to overtime and the second being decided by three points.

Sunday's announcement ensures the Thunder and Rockets will be at full strength when they return to the court.