TODAY'S PAPER
Overcast 33° Good Evening
Overcast 33° Good Evening
SportsBasketball

Pero Antic says he and Thabo Sefolosha not with Chris Copeland at a Manhattan nightclub

Atlanta Hawks player Thabo Sefolosha leaves a courthouse

Atlanta Hawks player Thabo Sefolosha leaves a courthouse in New York on Wednesday, April 8, 2015. Sefolosha and teammate Pero Antic have been released after their arrest on charges they blocked officers from setting up a crime scene following the stabbing of Indiana Pacers' Chris Copeland. Photo Credit: AP / Craig Ruttle

ATLANTA - Pero Antic said Friday he and Atlanta Hawks teammate Thabo Sefolosha were not with Indiana Pacers forward Chris Copeland when Copeland was stabbed outside a Manhattan nightclub.

Antic and Sefolosha were at the scene early Wednesday. They were charged with obstructing authorities and disorderly conduct and were released without bail.

Antic, speaking for the first time about the scene at the arrest, said he and Sefolosha were not part of Copeland's group.

"We don't have nothing to do with what happened with that," Antic said. "We weren't together. We didn't even see the guy and whatever happened, happened way before."

Copeland, Copeland's girlfriend and another woman were stabbed. A 22-year-old suspect was in custody.

Antic, a 6-foot-11 backup center, said he and Sefolosha were not trying to shield police or onlookers from Copeland.

"I would say that it's a pure example of being in the wrong place at the wrong time," Antic said. "I mean, people know Thabo for so many years in the league. He's probably one of the greatest guys. The reporters who are here know me. ... It's just a pure example of being in the wrong place at the wrong time."

Attorney Alex Spiro, representing Antic and Sefolosha, said the two did not commit a crime and he expects the charges to be dismissed.

Sefolosha sustained a fractured right lower leg and ligament damage. He will miss the rest of the regular season and postseason.

Antic did not play in the Hawks' win at Brooklyn on Wednesday night but is expected to play against Charlotte on Friday night.

The Hawks have clinched the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs.

"The only thing I can say is we feel bad for the bad publicity we brought to the Hawks organization, the Hawks family, not by our fault," Antic said.

The loss of Sefolosha, a backup forward and strong perimeter defender, comes as the Hawks already are missing starting forward Paul Millsap with a sprained right shoulder.

Coach Mike Budenholzer said Friday that Millsap will not play against Charlotte and also will miss Sunday's game at Washington. Budenholzer said he believes Millsap can return for the playoffs.

"I think we feel good about the progress he's making and the timeline," Budenholzer said.

Budenholzer said he's not concerned the arrests of Antic and Sefolosha will be a distraction.

"What's helping most is the players we have in our locker room," Budenholzer said. "I think they're a really mature group. They have a high belief in each other and they have a high belief in what they're doing. There's a real genuine focus on what can we do as a team."

Center Al Horford said players are supporting Sefolosha, but he said he hasn't talked with him about the incident.

"I haven't really talked to him much about anything," Horford said. "I've kind of given him his space. It's something he needs to get treatment and when the time is right, I'll reach out to him."

Antic said he apologized to his teammates.

"Yeah, you know, they're supportive," Antic said. "We apologized to them that we couldn't even help them in the game in Brooklyn. They win. We congratulated them. We've just got the full support of the team. That's most important for us."

New York Sports