April 22, 2018
LeBron James has further fanned the flames of his long-time rivalry with Indiana Pacers guard Lance Stephenson after the Cleveland Cavaliers won Game 4 of their first-round playoffs series.
LeBron James: Cavs star fuels Lance Stephenson rivalry after Game 4 win over Pacers
The two have had a long-running conflict and James allowed Stephenson’s antics to get the better of him with six minutes of the fourth quarter left to go.
Stephenson made the most of a light shove during a time-out to earn LeBron a technical foul which the Pacers made use of to take a late lead, going 92-89 up.
But despite the clash, LeBron helped the Cavs to grind out a precious 104-100 win in Indiana which ties the best-of-seven series at 2-2.
That was despite another incident in which Stephenson forced a jump ball and mockingly held the ball aloft in one hand to deliberately goad LeBron, also getting involved with Jeff Green in a controversial finish.
But James - who racked up 32 points, 13 rebounds and seven assists - insists that he wasn’t in the wrong and that he kept his cool in order to secure a vital victory at the Bankers Life Fieldhouse.
LeBron James: Cavs star fuels Lance Stephenson rivalry after Game 4 win over Pacers
“I should’ve never got a tech in the first place,” insisted the Cavs star. “It’s a time-out call, this guy’s fouling me to my bench and then I give him a little nudge and he falls to half-court. Come on!
“But I should know better, I’ve been dealing with this since elementary. It’s like, I’ll tell you a joke and then you laugh and you get caught.
“That’s what happened. Lance told me a joke, I laughed, teacher caught me, now I’ve got to go and see the principal. That’s what happened."
LeBron James: Cavs star fuels Lance Stephenson rivalry after Game 4 win over Pacers
LeBron James: Cavs star fuels Lance Stephenson rivalry after Game 4 win over Pacers
Asked how he kept his composure while wrestling with Stephenson, LeBron added: “I think it’s just knowing what the main thing is and that’s for us to try to execute offensively and defensively.
“I understand how important I am to the team and I’m just trying to foresee what we need to do to execute offensively and defensively, be better and try to win the ball game.”
Stephenson and LeBron’s rivalry dates back to 2012 when four-time MVP James played for the Miami Heat - their most iconic back-and-forth seeing Stephenson blow in his compatriot’s ear during the Eastern Conference finals four years ago.
LeBron has knocked Stephenson’s Pacers out of the playoffs four times previously - including last year - and will hope to get the last laugh by doing so again this year.
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