Los Angeles: LeBron James was ejected for the first time in his NBA career on Tuesday, but it didn’t stop his Cleveland Cavaliers from marching to a 108-97 home win against the Miami Heat.
James was angered at the lack of a foul call on a drive to the basket on which he came up empty.
Shouting, he made a beeline for referee Kane Fitzgerald, who quickly whistled the superstar for a technical foul and then pointed to the exit with 1:59 remaining in the third quarter.
It was the first time James was ejected in 1,082 career regular-season games.
“I got fouled,” James said. “I showed my frustration to the ref and he sent me to the locker room.”
James, who had stripped the ball from Miami’s James Johnson at the other end, said he was “fouled all the way up the court, from the time that I stripped him all the way til I got to the rim.
“I said what I had to say and I moved on but (Fitzgerald) decided I should get two (technical fouls).
“It is what it is,” added James, who scored 21 points with 12 rebounds, six assists and five steals. “We got the win and that’s the most important.”
The Cavs were leading 93-70 at the time, and the absence of James for the final period didn’t stop the Eastern Conference champions from notching a ninth victory in a row.
Kevin Love scored a season-high 38 points for the Cavaliers and Dwyane Wade added 17 off the bench against his former team.
Cleveland led by as many as 34 points and now have their longest regular-season winning streak since January 15-February 5 of 2015.
Love added nine rebounds and connected on 14 of his 17 free-throws.
Cleveland seized control of the contest with 75 points in the first half — 32 of them from Love.
Dion Waiters led the Heat with 21 points and Bam Adebayo scored 19.
The game marked the first time that Heat coach Erik Spoelstra went up against his former Miami stars James and Wade at the same time.
He coached Heat teams led by James and Wade to four straight NBA Finals appearances from 2011-2014, winning titles in 2012 and 2013.-AFP