New York star forward Carmelo Anthony said Thursday that Atlanta forward Thabo Sefolosha flopped on a play for which Anthony was ejected the previous night, and Knicks coach Jeff Hornacek said he didn't think Anthony deserved to be tossed.
Anthony hit Sefolosha in the face while the two were entangled near the basket during Wednesday night's 102-98 Knicks overtime loss in Atlanta. After the blow, the two players came face to face and had to be separated by teammates and officials. Anthony was whistled for a flagrant foul 2, which resulted in an automatic ejection.
"I don't think it was anything Sefolosha was doing as far as being overly physical or anything like that. It was just a battle; we were both trying to go for it. Got tangled up," Anthony told reporters Thursday. "He did his European and flopped a little bit."
Sefolosha, who received a technical foul on the play, had said after the game that Anthony had punched him.
"That was a fist right in my face," he said.
Anthony said he hadn't intended to hit Sefolosha in the face.
"It was more of getting him off of me," Anthony said. "It was more getting him off of me than swinging at him."
It was unclear what -- if anything -- precipitated Anthony's second-quarter run-in with Sefolosha.
"I don't blame [Anthony] for what happened, honestly. If you watch the replay, you watch the action, the guy had his arms wrapped around his neck," Hornacek told reporters after Knicks practice Thursday. "You know, it's like I want to sometimes go to the referee and wrap my arms around their neck and say, 'What are you going to do? You just going to stand there?'
"You're going to get the guy off you. It's a natural reaction. You're not going to let a guy grab you around the neck. To me, that's more inadvertent. It's a reaction. If someone grabs you up there, you throw your hands up."
Thursday's ejection was Anthony's second of the season. He also was tossed in the first half of the Knicks' Nov. 11 game against the Boston Celtics.
The Knicks lost that contest in Boston. They have generally struggled without Anthony in the past two seasons. New York is 0-11 since the start of the 2015-16 season in games during which Anthony sits.
According to ESPN Stats & Information data, since Anthony's rookie season in 2003-04, only three players have been ejected more times than his 10: Matt Barnes (13), DeMarcus Cousins (11) and Richard Hamilton (11).
ESPN's Ian Begley contributed to this report.