During the Los Angeles Lakers’ 121-116 win over the Pistons on Sunday night, LeBron James was ejected from the game for striking Detroit big man Isaiah Stewart in the face while jostling for rebounding position.

ESPN reported that after Stewart was hit, he was left with blood streaming down his face as he had to be held back multiple times from confronting James. There was 9:18 remaining in the third quarter when the incident occurred, and the Lakers were trailing 79-67.

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Though Stewart was initially whistled for a loose ball foul on the play, an official review led to James being assessed a flagrant foul 2 and ejected, while Stewart was assessed two technical fouls and ejected. Meanwhile, Lakers guard Russell Westbrook was called for a technical foul.

After the game, crew chief Scott Foster said that Westbrook was deemed to be “an escalator and not a peacemaker” as the reason for the technical foul. He added that Stewart was assessed two technical fouls for “multiple unsportsmanlike acts during the altercation.” As for James Foster said that his penalty stemmed from “unnecessary and excessive contact above the shoulder.”

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This was the second ejection in James’ entire nineteen-year career, with his first coming in November of 2017 when his Cleveland Cavaliers hosted the Miami Heat.

“Everyone in the league knows LeBron’s not a dirty guy,” said Lakers big man Anthony Davis. “In fact, when he knew he hit him, as soon as he did it, he looked back at him like, ‘Oh, my bad. I didn’t try to do it.'”

While Lakers coach Frank Vogel said Stewart initiated the confrontation, he also did not object to James being ejected.

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“[James] had an elbow [from Stewart] to the rib cage, which was a foul, and he was trying to shed the contact,” Vogel said. “And had incidental contact that was obviously enough for a flagrant 2.”

Neither James nor Stewart talked to reporters after the game.

“It was a tough play with Isaiah,” Pistons coach Dwane Casey said. “His eye got cracked all the way open, and he was upset for a reason. So, I don’t think James is a dirty player, but again, it got them going.”

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“The altercation, it could have done two things: It could have made us unravel. Or it could have brought us together, and I think it did just that. It brought us together,” added Lakers center DeAndre Jordan. “We were down. We could have easily folded, let go of the rope, but we didn’t. We continued to fight, and we knew, obviously, with LeBron out, we had to all step it up even more.”

If James is hit with disciplinary action, he could miss the Lakers’ lone trip to Madison Square Garden this season.

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