The Los Angeles Lakers and Phoenix Suns combined for a chaotic moment in the second half of Game 1, when superstar LeBron James took a tumble over Chris Paul, falling hard on his shoulder.
James grasped at his shoulder and received treatment on the bench after the physical play from his good friend, Paul, who also injured his shoulder on a play earlier in the game.
The Lakers were not happy with the play, which head coach Frank Vogel expressed in his postgame press conference.
“It was an overly aggressive box out and a dangerous play,” Vogel said. “LeBron was in the air and got undercut. The guys stood up for him. I didn’t exactly see what happened with the altercations, but we have some video to look at to see exactly what happened.”
LeBron’s longtime personal athletic trainer Mike Mancias working on LeBron’s shoulder as the officials review the video to assess technicals. pic.twitter.com/McNSYYG3PD
— Rachel Nichols (@Rachel__Nichols) May 23, 2021
When asked about the play, James simply responded: “I’ll be ready for Game 2.”
DeAndre Ayton Stepped on Court During Scuffle
After James hit the court, a scuffle started along the sideline between Cameron Payne, Alex Caruso and Montrezl Harrell. Payne was tossed, while Caruso and Harrell both received technicals.
Twitter was quick to point out that Suns big man DeAndre Ayton stepped onto the court during the clash. It was just one foot, but it’s a situation the Lakers know well, with young gun Talen Horton-Tucker being suspended earlier in the season for a similar violation, although he wandered further onto the floor.
— CompaJR (@juansjr7) May 23, 2021
By the letter of the law, Ayton could be suspended and miss Game 2. If that were to happen, it’d be a big boost for the Lakers, who were unable to contain the former top pick. He scored 21 points with 16 rebounds and was a game-best plus-16.
James Hoping for ‘More Than Four Games’ Against Suns
James remained in the game, finishing with 18 points, 10 assists and 7 rebounds in 36 minutes. He looked fairly spry, although he’s still dealing with lingering effects from his ankle sprain.
The Lakers are hoping to play the long game with getting healthy, although the Suns made it clear that they won’t be an easy out after taking a 1-0 lead.
“Obviously I had a lot more time to rev up and build my body over the course of the season in the past, and with the six and a half, seven weeks or whatever I had to sit out, I didn’t get an opportunity to rev up and sharpen my sword,” James said prior to the series regarding his injury. “Obviously for me it was very stressful watching our games knowing how much I can help the ball club and not actually being out there. So as far as like a mental break, I didn’t get much of that because I just wanted to be available to my guys and I couldn’t.
“But I’m ready. I’m prepared mentally. My game will continue to improve as the games go on,” James added. “Hopefully we can play more than four games, and that will get my game going more and more and more.”
Game 2 is on Tuesday between the Lakers and Suns in Phoenix.
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