- LeBron James didn't think he deserved a tech for his "nudge" on Lance Stephenson during Cleveland's win in Game 4.
In the latest chapter of their storied postseason rivalry, Lance Stephenson won the battle, but LeBron James won the war.
With the Pacers leading 91-89 midway through the fourth quarter of Game 4 on Sunday, Stephenson unleashed his latest round of antagonistic antics. As James headed back toward Cleveland’s bench for a timeout, Stephenson shadowed him and the two walked shoulder-to-shoulder across the paint. After a few steps, James used his left arm to shove Stephenson away, causing the Pacers guard to stumble all the way to the free-throw line. James was quickly hit with a technical foul.
Cleveland survived down the stretch, pulling out a 104-100 road victory to even the first-round series at two games apiece. James led all scorers with 32 points, 13 rebounds and seven assists, and he disputed his technical foul during his post-game press conference.
“I should have never gotten a tech in the first place,” James said. “A timeout was called and this guy was following me to my bench. I give him a little nudge and he falls to half-court. Come on.”
James, who famously had his ear blown into by Stephenson during the 2014 Eastern Conference Finals, went on to use a primary-school analogy to describe Sunday’s altercation.
“I should know better,” he said. “I’ve been dealing with this since elementary [school]. It’s like I tell you a joke and then you laugh and you get caught. That’s what happened. Lance told me a joke, I laughed and the teacher caught me. Now I have to go see the principal. That’s what happened.”
Stephenson finished with 11 points and six assists in 23 minutes off the bench for Indiana.
The Cavaliers will host the Pacers in Game 5 on Wednesday.