LeBron’s war of words with the New York Knicks spills to the floor as ‘King James’ gets called out
Cleveland Cavaliers forward involved in altercation with Frank Ntilikina and Enes Kanter after pre-match comments irk Knicks stars
LeBron James got shoved by the Knicks and then benched by his coach, but neither could keep him down for good.
James had 23 points, 12 assists and nine rebounds, while Kyle Korver scored 19 of his 21 points in the fourth quarter to spark a huge comeback, and the Cleveland Cavaliers beat New York 104-101.
The four-time NBA MVP also had a technical foul after a first-quarter altercation with Frank Ntilikina and Enes Kanter, which seemed to charge up the Knicks.
The game was just two days after James, following a victory in Dallas, said Mavericks rookie Dennis Smith Jnr should be a Knick. The Knicks passed on Smith in the draft, taking Ntilikina one spot earlier at No 8.
James said he meant it as a shot at former president Phil Jackson, and he was angry that he thought Kanter overreacted in his defence of Ntilikina. So it was not surprising things got heated between them on the court.
James dunked and then would not move out of the way as Ntilikina tried to take the ball back to the baseline to throw it in. Ntilikina pushed James, who then exchanged words with Kanter after he ran in. James shoved Kanter, and both were given technical fouls.
“I don’t care … what you call yourself. King, Queen, Princess, whatever you are. You know what, we’re going to fight and nobody out there (is) going to punk us,” Kanter said.
“I’m the King, my wife is the Queen and my daughter is the Princess,” he said. “So we got all three covered.”
The Knicks got hot after that, hitting the Cavs with a 15-0 burst early in the second to open a 47-31 lead. Ntilikina and Hardaway both stole the ball from James during the run.
Cleveland made a brief run early in the third before New York extended it back to 17, when Tyronn Lue yanked the five Cavs starters with the Knicks on their way to a 23-point lead.
“I knew we had another half,” James said. “Didn’t know that I was going to get snatched like that early in the third, but I felt if I got back in I could still make some plays to help our team win.”
He did, hitting two of the Cavaliers’ nine three-pointers in the fourth after they made just seven through three quarters and helping the Cavs charge back for their eighth straight victory at Madison Square Garden.
Cleveland outscored New York 43-25 in the fourth, making more threes than the Knicks had baskets (8). But the turnaround started late in the third with the second unit in.
“Now we just kept talking about chipping away, chipping away,” Dwyane Wade said. “And then as you saw Kyle Korver got going and then when you saw LeBron check back in, you knew, OK. You saw the waves coming.”