Heat forward LeBron James was assessed a flagrant foul for delivering an elbow to Pacers center Roy Hibbert during Indiana’s 84-83 home victory on Wednesday.
With a little less than nine minutes remaining in the fourth quarter and the Heat leading 72-69, James attacked the paint from the right angle after collecting a skip pass from Dwyane Wade. As he rose to attempt a double-clutch runner, James' right elbow hit Hibbert in the face and knocked the Pacers center directly to the court.
Hibbert initially tried to get up and walk but he quickly collapsed to the ground again. He would briefly leave the court to receive medical attention before returning to the game following a Pacers timeout.
James was given a flagrant foul 1 for his elbow, a designation that applies to plays that are deemed "unnecessary" by the officials. He didn't agree with the decision.
“If I can jump up in the air and elbow someone in the face and finish a play, I must be a kung-fu master,” James said after the game, according to the Sun-Sentinel.
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The flagrant foul came shortly after James himself absorbed hard fouls from Ian Mahinmi and Luis Scola in quick succession, both of which were deemed personal fouls rather than flagrant fouls.
“I don’t want to fall into the pit of what’s going on,” James said afterwards, according to the Indianapolis Star. “Me and Blake Griffin, we take some hard hits. They call it the way they wanna call it. It’s very frustrating though, very frustrating.”
James led all scorers with 38 points (on 11-for-19 shooting), eight rebounds and five assists in a losing effort. Wade tallied 15 points (on 6-for-11 shooting), four rebounds and one assist for the Heat.
Paul George led the Pacers with a team-high 23 points (on 8-for-19 shooting), eight rebounds and four assists. Hibbert added 21 points (on 7-for-15 shooting) and four rebounds in the win.
Indiana improved to 52-20 with the victory and took a 2-1 season series lead over Miami, who dropped to 48-22 with the loss. The victory kept the Pacers three games up over the Heat for the East’s top seed.