BOSTON -- For only the fourth time in his NBA career and the first time since April of 2008, Miami's LeBron James fouled out of Sunday's Game 4 overtime loss to the Boston Celtics. And, understandably, he wasn't particularly thrilled about it.
James got whistled for an offensive foul with 1:51 remaining in the extra session as Mickael Pietrus stepped up and took a charge for a Boston team clinging to a one-point lead at that point.
"I don't think I fouled him," said James, carefully watching his words. "I don't think it was a foul."
Later, James elaborated a bit more on the whistles against him.
"It's very tough," he said. "I thought a few of my fouls were -- I don't know, I don't know. I got a foul coming off a pin-down where I got cut off. They called an offensive foul (with) Pietrus. I got a double foul in the paint and then I got another foul posting up in transition. Yes (it's tough to deal with that). It's very difficult because I know how to play the game of basketball and I don't need an advantage of holding somebody or pushing somebody down, but whatever, we lost."
What was going through James' mind when No. 6 picked up No. 6?
"I don't foul out," said James. "If I'm going to foul out, that sixth foul, I wish I would have earned it and it had actually been a foul on me. Whatever."
Unfortunately for James, misery loves company. Celtics captain Paul Pierce had fouled out just 38 seconds into overtime and was happy to see James join him on the sidelines soon after.
"It was very frustrating, but it's gratifying when you see the other star player foul out," admitted Pierce. "So it kind of evened up the playing field."
Informed it was the first time since 2008 that James had fouled out, Pierce seemed surprised (this after the captain has fouled out three times in recent postseason games for Boston).
"Oh, wow, interesting fact," said Pierce. "You look up, (James) never really has a lot of fouls. But we were aggressive against him tonight. We stepped up twice and took charges, we drove when he was guarding the ball, so that's what you have to do. A lot of players don't really try to attack him. It's not often that he plays against top small forwards in the league, also. There's only a few of us who give you that aggressive scoring, between me, Carmelo (Anthony), and (Kevin) Durant, so he gets a lot of nights off."
Heat coach Erik Spoelstra lamented the situation, but admitted there's no guidelines on how to navigate that process.
"Is there a textbook for that? I don't really know," he said of James' foul trouble. "I had to get him out for a couple of minutes. It was five and change in the game when he got his fifth. So at that point you just have to roll the dice and cross your fingers. But yeah, we had a couple of guys in foul trouble. That proved to be costly at the end. That's a shame. You hope that both teams you have their guys and may the best team win."