Crew chief Scott Foster said Lakers star LeBron James was ejected from Sunday’s 121-116 victory over the Pistons for “unnecessary and excessive contact above the shoulder” during an altercation that left Detroit center Isaiah Stewart bleeding above the right eye.
“Upon the free throw the initial contact (was) deemed a loose ball foul by Isaiah Stewart and then a dead ball act by LeBron James, deemed a Flagrant Foul Penalty 2 for unnecessary and excessive contact above the shoulder,” Foster said during a postgame interview with The Athletic’s James Edwards III.
Pool Report on the Ejection of LeBron James and Isaiah Stewart in the Third Quarter of Tonight’s Los Angeles Lakers at Detroit Pistons Gamehttps://t.co/qk4O4EEUUr
— NBA Official (@NBAOfficial) November 22, 2021
James was ejected from the game after drawing blood on Stewart’s face when they were tangled up while boxing out for a rebound on Sunday night.
Stewart, who was called for a foul before James hit him, was also ejected from the game early in the third quarter after being assessed two technical fouls for his role in the fray. James was called for a Flagrant 2 foul.
The two were immediately separated by teammates, but Stewart became enraged as blood began to stream down his face. Making repeated attempts to get at James, Stewart drew multiple technical fouls and a subsequent ejection of his own as coaches and teammates desperately tried to hold him back.
“Isaiah got two technical fouls for multiple unsportsmanlike acts during the altercation,” Foster said.
Lakers guard Russell Westbrook was assessed a technical after the officials reviewed the play and the fallout from it, determining he was an “escalator,” while there was pushing, shoving and trash talking.
James was escorted off the floor and fans did not throw anything at him as he walked toward the team’s locker room.
It marked only the second career ejection for James in 1,318 career regular-season games. He did not speak to the media after Sunday’s game, but teammate Anthony Davis defended the strike as inadvertent.
“Everyone in the league knows LeBron isn’t a dirty guy,” said Davis, who scored 30 points with 10 rebounds as the Lakers outscored the Pistons by 17 following James’ dismissal. “As soon as he did it, he looked back and told (Stewart), ‘My bad. I didn’t try to do it.’ I don’t know what (Stewart) tried to do. Nobody on our team, 1-15, was having it.”
Said Pistons coach Dwane Casey, “(Stewart) was upset. I told him, ‘Don’t let this define who you are. It doesn’t define your game whatsoever.’ I felt for the young man because he’s such a competitor and he plays so hard.”
Stewart broke free more than once and appeared to be running into a tunnel that potentially provided a path toward to the Lakers’ bench.
“I don’t think James is a dirty player, but Stew cut his eye,” Casey said. “He felt like he had been cheap-shotted across the brow. I’m not even sure he knew who hit him.”
Earlier this season, Stewart faced off with former teammate Blake Griffin of the Brooklyn Nets after they were tangled up during a game.
“He needs to just keep his head and not get a reputation,” Casey said.
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.