Sunday, January 12, 2014
AK-47: LeBron 'escalated the conflict'
By Matt Ehalt
LeBron James may think otherwise, but Brooklyn Nets forward Andrei Kirilenko said he didn't flop in Friday's 104-95 win in double overtime over the Miami Heat. James, who fouled out for the sixth time in his career, said after the game he thought Kirilenko flopped a few times.
"It’s all right," Kirilenko told The Record (N.J.). "I don’t really care, I don’t take it personally. ... He’s a strong guy, he tries to overpower his defenders. And every time he’s trying to [get] open, he has to use his force. I didn’t flop. That’s what I can tell you."
Kirilenko was one of the Nets assigned the tough task of guarding James during Friday's battle. James was whistled for his sixth foul in the first overtime when he drove into the lane and was called for a charge on Shaun Livingston. While the Heat were able to force a second overtime, the Nets pulled away in that last stanza.
"I thought Kirilenko flopped a few times to be honest about it, and he got the call," James said after the game. "The last one that fouled me out could've been a charge for sure. He put his hands on me as I drove and that got him off balance and he got the call. But he definitely flopped a few times."
Kirilenko told The Record that the Nets' plan on defense was to "be annoying" to James by crowding him. James still scored 36 points.
One player who particularly annoyed James was Nets forward Mirza Teletovic, who was whistled for a flagrant foul 1 after he wrapped his arms around James while the reigning MVP drove to the basket in the fourth quarter. James went at Teletovic, although the two never came to blows. Teletovic smiled at James while they were being separated.
Kirilenko believes James made too big a deal out of the foul.
"I think he escalated the conflict rather than just let it go," Kirilenko told the paper. "I was a little bit surprised because it wasn’t a situation to get into a fight, Mirza just tried to slow him down and understand that something is going wrong so he let him go right away. [LeBron] just overreacted a little bit."