Lance Stephenson Asked to Guard LeBron James in Game 4

by May 29, 2013

After LeBron James repeatedly punished Paul George on the block in a dominant Game 3 performance, the Indiana Pacers needed to do something different last night to slow him down. Lance Stephenson put the onus on himself, asking head coach Frank Vogel for the opportunity to check the NBA’s MVP (who posted 24 points, 6 rebounds and 5 assists in a losing effort). Per Fox Sports: “‘He asked to guard him. He asked to guard him,’ said Vogel, seemingly really wanting to really emphasize that. ‘He’s a competitor. We know Paul (George) is getting worn out a little bit guarding LeBron the whole game that he’s in there. Lance said, ‘Let me share some of the load.’ Stephenson did a heck of a job as the Pacers evened the Eastern Conference finals 2-2 with the win at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. Not only did he score 20 points on 9-of-15 shooting, but he also helped hold the Heat star to 24 points on 8-of-18 marksmanship, with James fouling out with 56 seconds remaining. Vogel later was pressed on Stephenson having made the request. Perhaps he realized then this was something that could fire up James for Game 5 Thursday in Miami and beyond. ‘We were just talking,’ Vogel said. ‘Let’s not make a bigger story than that is. We were just talking about loosening the load on Paul. And we used Sam (Young) some and Lance was like, ‘I’ll guard him some, too.’ We’ll all share in it. It wasn’t about any major story there.’ […] ‘If you are sitting here and talking about an individual one-on-one matchup between me and Lance Stephenson, I’m not going to harp on that,’ James said. It would be a surprise if James doesn’t use Stephenson’s request to guard him for motivation. For starters, Stephenson has hardly been the most popular guy during the King’s reign.”