PHOENIX — Los Angeles Lakers coach Frank Vogel accused Phoenix Suns star Chris Paul of a “dirty play” on LeBron James during Game 1 of the first-round playoff series.
“I don’t know anything about that. I have absolutely nothing to say about that. We’re just playing basketball and competing,” Paul told Yahoo Sports after the Suns’ 99-90 victory to take a 1-0 series lead. “I’m just thankful we got the win, and I’m looking forward to Game 2.”
The play in question occurred three minutes into the fourth quarter when James was at the free-throw line.
Upon jumping and attempting to secure a rebound off his own miss, Paul sprinted from behind to box out the four-time MVP winner and James collapsed awkwardly to the hardwood.
James began rolling around on the court while holding onto his left shoulder.
“My view was overly aggressive box out, a dangerous play where ’Bron was in the air and got uppercut,” Vogel told media members on a postgame Zoom call.
Paul told Yahoo Sports that he walked by multiple Laker players after the game, including Anthony Davis, and no one said a word to him about the play.
“Anytime you hit somebody's leg, it's always a dangerous play. That's what you don't want,” Davis said on a postgame Zoom call. “You don’t want anyone to get injured on plays like that. But the intensity is where it’s supposed to be. Guys getting into it, chirping. That’s playoff basketball.”
Paul refused to engage in a battle of words with the Lakers’ coach.
“I’m just excited to see my son [Chris Paul Jr.], who I haven’t seen in a while. It’s his [12th] birthday,” Paul told Yahoo Sports. “So I’m just going to enjoy some family time and prepare for the next game.”
While James was on the floor in pain, Cameron Payne and Alex Caruso got into it when Payne used his forearm to shove Caruso to the ground. Caruso got up and slapped the ball out of his hand, and Payne picked up the ball and threw it at Caruso’s leg, prompting Montrezl Harrell to race in and aggressively refrain Payne.
The incidents led to Payne being ejected and Caruso and Harrell both receiving a technical foul.
Chris Paul injures shoulder early in Game 1 vs. Lakers
Paul was on the receiving end of an injury early in the second quarter when his right arm got tangled up with teammate Cameron Johnson while in transition defense.
It was a scary moment when the guard toppled to the court in agonizing pain favoring his right shoulder. He stayed down for several minutes as members of both teams stood around issuing support. He finally got up and headed to the locker room, but he returned to action a few minutes later after the team ruled he suffered a right shoulder contusion.
Paul finished with seven points and eight assists in 36 minutes.
“I’ll be receiving around-the-clock treatment,” Paul told Yahoo Sports. “But I’ll be ready for Game 2 on Tuesday.”
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