Referee Accidentally Trips LeBron James During Brutal Heat-Pacers Game

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Referee Accidentally Trips LeBron James During Brutal Heat-Pacers Game
Nathaniel S. Butler/Getty Images

You can’t dance this close to the fire without being burned.

LeBron James was in a foul mood during Wednesday night’s game against the Indiana Pacers, and a bit of accidental interference by referee Mark Ayotte didn’t do much to alleviate that.

Fox Sports reports (h/t Sean Highkin of For The Win) that the Miami Heat forward was dribbling around a Chris Bosh screen on the perimeter when his feet tangled with Ayotte’s. James hit the floor and managed to dish the ball without traveling, but the incident contributed to a shot-clock violation against Miami:

Cue incredulous LeBron look:

Screenshot via YouTube

The contact was completely accidental, but that distinction didn’t matter to James at the time. He just knew the Pacers were all over him and the game was on the line. The last thing he needed was a ref’s physical interjection.

“Physical” was the nature of the game on Wednesday night, however. James was clobbered in the lane on multiple occasions and managed to catch Roy Hibbert with a nasty elbow to the face:

James denied intentionally elbowing Hibbert in the face, claiming he would have to be some kind of samurai to pull off such a feat:

Ira Winderman of the Sun Sentinel writes that James’ elbow could preclude him from participating in Friday’s game against the wallowing Detroit Pistons

“It got testy in the fourth quarter…James then landed his elbow to Hibbert’s face, with that offensive foul ruled a flagrant foul that could leave him suspended for Friday’s road game.” 

The Heat went on to lose to the Pacers, 84-83. Judging by postgame interviews, they believed the Pacers mugged their way to victory.

“Our guys are getting punched in the face, man. You know what I'm saying?" Chris Bosh offered. "If you can come down and clothesline somebody, it’s open season, man. People are going to get hurt.” 

No one was seriously injured in the ‘bow-throwing carnival in Indianapolis, but the extracurricular activities could keep James out of the mix against Detroit.

This wouldn’t be a huge letdown, considering Detroit is Detroit. The biggest takeaway from Wednesday night is that a gladiatorial tone has been set for the all but inevitable Eastern Conference Finals showdown between these two teams.

When and if that time comes, bring your mouthguards and cups. It will be a bar fight. 

 

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