James, Blatt both downplay shoving incident

Published 3:01 am Thursday, January 15, 2015

PHOENIX (AP) — LeBron James and David Blatt have downplayed an incident in which the four-time MVP shoved his coach during Cleveland’s loss to the Phoenix Suns.

In the first half of Tuesday night’s game, Blatt was vehemently arguing a call when James pushed him back to the bench.

The incident occurred after James was called for an offensive foul.

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“I was talking to Eric Lewis, one of the other refs,” James said after the game. “And coach Blatt was getting a little fired up about it too. So I just got him up out of the way so he wouldn’t get a ‘T.’ So, just protecting my coach.”

Blatt had the same explanation.

“He was trying to protect me from a technical foul,” Blatt said.

The episode was magnified by the team’s recent problems. The Cavaliers have lost six in a row and nine of their last 10. They were 1-7 in James’ absence and have fallen below .500 at 19-20.

Tuesday night’s loss came in James’ return to the team after a two-week absence to rest his sore left knee and back.

He scored 33 points but the Cavaliers lost 107-100. One of the big players acquired to play alongside James this season, Kevin Love, sat out a good portion of the third quarter and all of the fourth while Cleveland rallied from a 19-point deficit.

Cleveland resumes its western road trip Thursday night against the Lakers in Los Angeles.