Houston: The NBA suspended Houston Rockets guard James Harden for one game without pay for kicking Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James here.

The incident happened in the third quarter of Houston's 105-103 victory over Cleveland on Sunday and Harden fell back to the court, then kicked his foot up into James, below the belt, reports Xinhua.

Harden was initially called for a Flagrant 1 foul, which meant the Cavs received two free throws and the ball but Harden was allowed to stay in the game.

James expressed his anger after the game, saying that Harden's kick was "not a basketball play" and that the league would probably look at it.

The NBA on Monday upgraded the call to a Flagrant 2 foul and Harden will serve his suspension on Tuesday night when Rockets play Atlanta Hawks. It will be the first game he will miss this season.

Harden, NBA's leading scorer, has not responded to the suspension but dismissed the kick as "a reaction".