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LeBron, who had to receive medical attention for a blow by Domantas Sabonis (14 points and 12 rebounds) in the eyebrow, put the team behind with 9 points in the last five minutes.
The Los Angeles team got to be 6 points ahead (110-104) with just over a minute to play but a triple by Justin Holiday brought the Pacers closer. With 6.5 seconds off the horn, Dominican Chris Duarte (17 points) nailed another unlikely triple from the corner and off balance that sent the game into extra time.
LeBron didn’t take the blow and clinched the win with another 8 points in overtime, including two long 3s celebrated with rage. The 39 points were the best scoring of the season for the forward, who will turn 37 in December.
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“There is a difference between supporting your team and crossing a line with gestures and words, things that I would not say to a fan and that they should not say to a player,” James explained, quoted by USA Today.
The game against the Pacers was the return of “King James” after missing the game against the Knicks on Tuesday for the first suspension of his 18 years in the NBA.
LeBron said his hit to Stewart was “accidental” and that he later apologized to his rival, for which he believes he did not deserve the subsequent penalty.
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“I’m definitely not that type of player,” James said. “I think he deserved the expulsion because of what happened afterwards (…) The suspension I don’t think was justified, but the league made that decision and it’s fine,” he settled.