LeBron James was on the wrong end of the whistle on two particularly physical plays during the Heat’s loss to the Pacers on Wednesday, and when it was over, Chris Bosh was the one speaking up on his team’s behalf.
James has been here before, obviously, and wasn’t interested in having his comments become a lightning rod after a disappointing but ultimately meaningless regular season loss. Bosh, on the other hand, seemed to be lobbying for his team, with a matchup between Miami and Indiana almost assured to take place during the postseason.
Indiana reserve Ian Mahinmi took James down from behind on a drive to the basket. Somewhere in that crash, James took a hit to the nose and began bleeding. He broke his nose in late February at Oklahoma City and was unsure how much damage was done to it tonight.
“Our guys are getting punched in the face, man,” Chris Bosh said. “We’re getting punched in the face and clotheslined out there and we’re getting two shots and then we get an offensive foul call and it’s a flagrant. I guess maybe we need to really decipher what flagrant means because I don’t feel like they were going for the ball in plenty of situations.
“If you can come down and clothesline somebody, it’s open season and people are gonna get hurt. I don’t know. We’re gonna have to revisit what flagrant foul means. They had one and we had none even though LeBron got punched in the face and clotheslined. I guess it was a play on the ball.”
The play involving Mahinmi was physical, but not worthy of a flagrant because Mahinmi let go after making the initial contact, and James hit the deck of his own volition.
The one where LeBron was called for the extremely rare flagrant offensive foul was a little bit different; yes, his elbow landed squarely on Roy Hibbert’s face, but was there any intent there, or did Hibbert put himself in a position to receive that contact?
Bosh isn’t necessarily wrong, but talking about these plays makes it seem like the Pacers have the Heat thinking about something other than basketball. And that can only benefit Indiana when they meet again on April 11, and then again (as we all expect) at some point in the playoffs.