Pacers guard Lance Stephenson scored last night by blowing air into LeBron James’s ear on national television. LeBron James scored just seven points.
Has Stephenson invaded LeBron’s head as he seems to have invaded everybody else’s?
“No, it’s just buffoonery,” observed the Heat’s Ray Allen after the game dropped Miami’s series lead to 3-2. “As players, we just are professional. We come out and do our jobs. He’s young. He’ll grow up.”
Why should he? After ratcheting up his antics in Indianapolis Wednesday night, Stephenson’s Pacers beat old-man Allen’s Heat 93-90. Paul George scored 37 in victory but it’s less-talented teammate Stephenson, and the opposition’s best player’s worst playoff game, that everybody can’t stop talking about.
James, who went 2 for 10 from the field Wednesday night, had complained last year after a similar Stephenson ear-blowing maneuver. The 24-year-old guard decided to again do what he knew irritated his adversary. “My plan was to get into their head, get under their skin, and play physical basketball–and help my teammates win the game,” Stephenson told reporters after the Game 5 victory. “Just playing physical basketball and do whatever it takes to get the W. My teammates had my back. We all played good. I’m just happy we got the W tonight.”
The referees, fans, and opposing players give the defending champions an abundance of respect. Stephenson, who scored 12 points, grabbed 5 boards, and dished 5 assists, mocks them. King James doesn’t quite appreciate the court jester. “Whatever Lance wants to do,” James explained after the game, “I don’t really care about that.”
The Pacers, despite championship talent, haven’t quite gelled this season. Stephenson’s series stunts, which included drawing a mean look from Miami coach Erik Spoelstra after attempting to spy on the Heat’s huddle, appeared to bring the Pacers together and knock their adversaries off their game.
“I just wanted to hear what he had to say about what they were trying to do on offense,” Stephenson maintained. “They were trying to run a pick and roll and I wanted to hear it.”
“The Lance Stephenson Show” airs again in primetime Friday night in Miami.