Cavs players react to incident with J.R. Smith at end of Heat game
LeBron James and Kyrie Irving sat last night as the Cavaliers were blown out by the Miami Heat. It seemed like it was going to end as an uneventful and lifeless affair in South Beach, but Cavs shooting guard J.R. Smith had to be escorted off the court by security following a heated-exchange with Heat guards Rodney McGruder and ex-Cav Dion Waiters as time expired.
Smith, who has been out of action since December 20th with a fractured right thumb, was fired up after McGruder dunked over teammate Channing Frye with 1:14 left in the fourth quarter and appeared to shove Frye in the back afterwards. A heated Smith began shouting in McGruder’s direction, which was then followed by Dion Waiters talking to and pointing at the Cavs bench. As most Cavs fans will remember, Waiters was traded two years ago in the deal that brought Smith and Iman Shumpert to Cleveland.
Smith was suited up on the bench for the game as he awaits to be cleared for a return to action, and despite no punches being thrown and Smith’s suit remaining in-tact, there are bound to be some words thrown around Monday as the Cavs welcome the Heat into Quicken Loans Arena.
After the game, Cavs players and Coach Tyronn Lue had nothing much to say about the situation, and downplayed what occurred after the final buzzer, via Joe Vardon of Cleveland.com.
“It’s not really a story, man,” Frye told reporters after the game. “Tempers flared, it is what it is, it’s over now. The game’s over. They won. Congrats. We play another game on Monday. It’s all good.”
Richard Jefferson, who sat next to Frye as he answered the question about the incident, swiftly told reporters “stop trying to make it a story,” when he heard the question.
Coach Lue knew it was important to get Smith off the floor in order to avoid any unnecessary confrontation or possible punishment.
“We got J.R. off the floor,” said coach Tyronn Lue. “He’s fiery, he’s feisty. He’s ready to get back on the floor. It happens throughout the course of a game. It’s nothing though.”
It was a physical game, with Kyle Korver suffering a deep gash on his left arm, Iman Shumpert getting his two front teeth chipped during the contest. For one of the newest Cavaliers and former member of the Heat, Derrick Williams knew a physical outing was coming.
“It got heated at the end, but that’s how they play,” said Derrick Williams. “Those guys are tough and physical, we just gotta match it.”
LeBron James, who didn’t see the action due to a trip to the bathroom with about two minutes left in the game, said he knows what this fire from Smith means.
“That just means J.R. is ready to come back,” James told Dave McMenamin of ESPN.
Expect a highly competitive outing tomorrow night as the Cavs look to protect home court and bring the fight to the Heat.
Watch the incident below: