CLEVELAND (92.3 The Fan) – It’s not too often that LeBron James feels the need to apologize, but he did Sunday following the Cavs’ 135-130 win over the Indiana Pacers in double-overtime.
With 26.5 left in the second OT, tempers flared between James and Tristan Thompson during a Pacers timeout that had just followed a Kevin Love 3 to put Cleveland in front 131-127.
“I apologized,” James, who finished with 41 points, 16 rebounds and 11 assists for his 11th triple-double of the season in nearly 52 minutes, said. “It’s cool.”
Thompson was angry with James after Paul George hit a 3 with to bring Indiana within 128-127 with 49.7 on the clock and he let the 4-time NBA MVP know it. James responded with a few choice words of his own leading to his postgame mea culpa.
“I had good intentions but [I was] a little bit too demonstrative at that point in the game,” James said. “I can’t show up my teammates, that’s for sure, especially double-T [who] works hard for our team and he’s a big time player for our team.
“I had good intentions on what I wanted to happen but the way it came out probably didn’t look good on TV.”
James and Thompson exchanged words as they walked towards the Cavs bench, then Thompson went and sat on the scorers table away from his teammates.
He’d said and heard enough.
Cavs head coach Tyronn Lue walked over and grabbed Thompson’s hand in what appeared to be an effort to get the 2 to settle the disagreement.
“Well, that shows you that we care about our defense,” Lue said. “The game is long, you want to win. Paul George makes a tough shot. You like to see that passion, and a lot of times take it out on the other team. They were both mad and frustrated, but that’s what you want to see. We wanted to win that game and it was a big play. Some miscommunication right there, but they got over it.”
Thompson declined to talk about the argument after the game.
“We’re family,” Thompson said. “A little miscommunication. Move forward. Move forward. We’re family and got each other’s back always.”
Thompson wasn’t happy to be asked to go into further detail of what happened by a reporter.
“Not going to get into it,” Thompson responded. “Like I said, just miscommunication. Move forward. It is what it is. Got the win, on to Orlando.”
Part of the frustration for both Thompson and James was the fact that George scored 19 of his 43 points in the 2 overtimes, including hitting 3 of 6 from beyond the arc with James as his primary defender.
“There’s going to be opportunities where I have to guard these top-notch guys in the playoffs,” James said. “You just try and slow them down. These guys are multiple All-Stars, they’re great players and you can’t stop them. Obviously you see what Paul did tonight but you just try and keep him under a shooting percentage, make it tough on him and live with the results. He made some big time plays tonight. He’s a big time player.”