Heat’s LeBron James fouls out, then accuses Nets’ Andrei Kirilenko of flopping
LeBron James accused Andrei Kirilenko of flopping on multiple occasions during Brooklyn’s 104-95 double overtime victory over Miami on Friday, a game that saw the reigning MVP foul out for the first time since 2008.
Three of James’ six fouls were drawn by Kirilenko: one on a shooting foul and two on offensive fouls by James. Nets guard Shaun Livingston also drew an offensive foul on James with 36 seconds remaining in the first overtime period that fouled out the Heat forward. The 2003 No. 1 pick has fouled out in just four regular season games over his 11-year career.
CBSSports.com reported that James pointed the finger at Kirilenko during his post-game comments.
“I thought Kirilenko flopped a few times, to be honest about it,” James said. “He flopped a few times and he got the call. I thought the last one that fouled me out, that could’ve been a charge for sure. He was trying to put his hands on me as I drove and that’s’ what got him off balance and he was able to get the call. But Kirilenko flopped on me a couple of times.”
One of James’ offensive fouls came during a fourth quarter sequence in which he drew a flagrant foul on Nets forward Mirza Teletovic.
With a little less than nine minutes remaining in the fourth quarter and the Nets leading 80-77, James pushed the ball up in transition. As he approached the three-point line, James used his left arm to clear Andrei Kirilenko off of him, and the whistle blew for an offensive foul. As James’ momentum continued into the paint, Teletovic wrapped his arms around James’ head in a half-horsecollar before quickly pulling them back because the play was dead.
James was given the offensive foul on that play for clearing away Kirilenko, but it’s possible that the Russian forward will receive a flop warning for his flailing reaction, which appeared inconsistent with the level of contact delivered by James’ push-off. James’ left arm appeared to contact Kirilenko in the chest, but Kirilenko’s head snapped back and he raised both of his arms as he spun away from the play.
The NBA instituted an anti-flopping policy prior to the 2012-13 season. Players are given one free warning during the regular season for flopping before they are subject to a graduated scale of fines for additional violations. Kirilenko has no prior flop warnings this season, so a warning for this play would not result in a fine.
“I don’t need to flop,” James said, according to the Associated Press. “I play an aggressive game. I don’t flop. I’ve never been one of those guys.”
However, he also said that does can see value in deceiving the officials.
“Some guys have been doing it for years, just trying to get an advantage,” James said in May, according to ESPN.com. ”Any way you can get an advantage over the opponent to help your team win, so be it.”
The NBA would later fine James $5,000 for flopping during the Eastern Conference finals against the Pacers. There are no free warnings in the playoffs.
The NBA assigned 24 flopping violations to 19 different players during the 2012-13 regular season. Five players received two infractions each, earning fines totaling $25,000, with zero players getting dinged three or more times. So far this season, 18 different players have been warned for flopping, with two players earning fines for repeat occurrences.
Flopping is defined by the league as “any physical act that, following review, reasonably appears to be intended to cause the game officials to call a foul on another player” with the “primary factor” in determining a flop being whether “a player’s physical reaction to contact with another player is inconsistent with what would reasonably be expected given the force or direction of the contact.”
James finished with a game-high 36 points (on 12-for-21 shooting), seven rebounds and five assists. Cole added 18 points (on 8-for-14 shooting) and seven assists in a losing effort.
Kirilenko tallied one point (on 0-for-2 shooting), five rebounds, one assist and two steals in 22 minutes.
After Paul Pierce missed potential game-winning shots at the end of regulation and overtime, the Nets pulled away from the James-less Heat in the second overtime period. Miami took the court without Dwyane Wade (rest) and Mario Chalmers (Achilles) on Friday.
Brooklyn improved to 15-21 with the win. Miami dropped to 27-10 with the loss.