LeBron James often has a great many things to say on plenty of different topics, but he kept things short and sweet when asked about his close friend Chris Paul undercutting him and grabbing his arm during a free-throw rebound, a play that led to a scuffle between the Lakers and Suns in Game 1 of their first-round series and resulted in four technical fouls and an ejection.
But what did James think of the play, and how is his shoulder?
“I’ll be ready for Game 2,” James said.
After his collision with Paul, Suns guard Cameron Payne knocked Lakers reserve Alex Caruso to the ground, which led Montrezl Harrell to run in and make contact with Payne. Caruso and Harrell received one technical foul each, while Payne was assessed two techs and ejected for his role in the fracas.
Players had to be separated after a CP3 loose ball foul on LeBron. pic.twitter.com/KpFxOPco6r— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) May 23, 2021
Lakers head coach Frank Vogel was less taciturn than his star player when asked to evaluate the play and resulting kerfuffle.
“My view was an overly aggressive box-out, (a) dangerous play where Bron was in the air and got undercut and some guys stood up for him,” Vogel said. “I didn’t see the exact exchange in terms of what happened with the altercation, but that’s why they have the video. They look at that and figure out what happened.”
This is actually not the first time that Paul has engaged with his close friend James like this, and he appears to have taken tips from teammate Jae Crowder when it comes to box-out technique.
James’ co-star, Anthony Davis, was also not a fan of the play.
“Anytime you hit somebody’s legs it’s always a dangerous play. That’s what we don’t want. We don’t want people getting injured on plays like that,” Davis said. “AC, Trezz coming in, that’s all sticking up for your teammates. It’s basketball.”
For his part, Paul disputed Vogel and Davis’ assessment to Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports:
“I don’t know anything about that. I have absolutely nothing to say about that. We’re just playing basketball and competing,” Paul told Yahoo Sports after the Suns’ 99-90 victory to take a 1-0 series lead. “I’m just thankful we got the win, and I’m looking forward to Game 2.”
And regardless, Davis added that such physicality is also just part of the playoffs.
“The intensity is where it’s supposed to be. Guys getting into it, chirping. It’s playoff basketball,” Davis said. “I feel like they were the more physical team tonight from the gate, and we have to be better in that department.”
We’ll see if the Lakers can do so — or if Paul faces any additional discipline from the league for this — by the time Game 2 takes place on Tuesday.
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