LeBron James was putting on a relatively pedestrian performance on Friday when, midway through the third quarter, James and Magic forward Tobias Harris had to be separated.
According to Cleveland.com, Harris told James to “stop flopping,” to which LeBron took exception. James turned it on the rest of the way, scoring 15 of his 29 points in the fourth quarter, and holding Harris to just one point in the final 17 minutes of the Cavs’ 98-89 win:
The two jawed back and forth at one another and had to be separated. While walking away, Harris yelled, “Stop flopping.”
“He barked up the wrong tree,” the Cavs’ Dion Waiters said of Harris after the game.
A sleeping giant was awakening.
Two possessions later, James stole a crosscourt pass and shot out on a one-man break. Orlando’s Elfrid Payton managed to get a hold of James from the back and James took him along for the ride to finish the left-handed layup, plus the foul.
The four-time MVP proceeded to mosey by Orlando’s bench to have a few words before taking his foul shot. Just like that, James was awakened.
From that point on James dominated Harris, going 5-of-7 in the final 17 minutes. He scored 15 of his game-high 29 points in the fourth. After that alteration with James, Harris only scored one point. He finished with 17 points on 6-of-12.
Cleveland won 89-81 after holding the Magic to 14 fourth-quarter points. James said Harris “absolutely” fired him up, but it wasn’t the flying elbows that pushed his button.
“It wasn’t the shoulder or the elbow, it was the words that he said that got me going,” James acknowledged. “I was actually in chill mode tonight but chill mode was deactivated after that.”