Chris Paul's Box out on LeBron James Was 'Dangerous Play,' Lakers' Frank Vogel Says

Scott Polacek@@ScottPolacekFeatured Columnist IVMay 23, 2021

Los Angeles Lakers head coach Frank Vogel gestures during an NBA basketball game between the Los Angeles Lakers and the Los Angeles Clippers, Thursday, May 6, 2021, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Ringo H.W. Chiu)
AP Photo/Ringo H.W. Chiu

Los Angeles Lakers head coach Frank Vogel was upset with more than just the score following his team's 99-90 loss to the Phoenix Suns in Sunday's Game 1 of their playoff series.

LeBron James went to the ground in pain during the fourth quarter when Chris Paul attempted to box him out on a missed free throw and appeared to pull down on the King's arm. Vogel called it a "really aggressive box out" and "a dangerous play," per Bill Oram of The Athletic.

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Lakers-Suns getting chippy pic.twitter.com/ttU2n74I5q

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The play kickstarted a scuffle between Cameron Payne, Alex Caruso and Montrezl Harrell.

Players had to be separated and Payne was ejected for the remainder of the contest.

James remained in the game and surely benefited from the additional rest time created when the officials reviewed the altercation. However, it wasn't enough for the seventh-seeded Lakers, who consistently struggled on the offensive end and shot 7-of-26 from deep in defeat. 

Anthony Davis in particular was a concern for the defending champions, as he shot just 5-of-16 from the field and was outplayed by Deandre Ayton in the frontcourt.

From Phoenix's perspective, the biggest concern remains Paul, and not because of the play Vogel described. The 11-time All-Star injured his shoulder in the first half and went to the locker room multiple times during the game.

While he eventually returned, he struggled to maintain his dribble at times and passed up a number of shots he would have typically attempted

His health is critical for the Suns if they are going to take advantage of home court and eliminate the Purple and Gold in the first round. Devin Booker and Ayton were both brilliant, but Paul is the veteran leader who will likely be asked to make the big plays in crunch time in future games.

He also may be under the spotlight more after Vogel called out his box out on James.