MIAMI – Lance Stephenson likes to talk.
To reporters. To teammates. To opponents.
So it's not a surprise the Indiana Pacers guard didn't back down from his comments about Miami Heat star LeBron James.
But Pacers teammate Paul George said Stephenson was talking trash to the "wrong guy. He's barking up the wrong tree. LeBron feeds off that kind of energy. … You can't tell me there's not one guy who talks trash to LeBron and sees him go for 40 or 50 points. You know he's more than capable of turning it up."
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On Sunday, Stephenson said the fact that James was talking trash with Stephenson during Game 3 "was a sign of weakness" on James' part.
"This is the playoffs, so everything is in the spotlight," Stephenson said. "I've got to be careful of what I say. … I just want to have fun and get ready for the game. It's not about me and him. It's about our team and winning games."
James was not available to reporters at Miami's Monday morning shootaround but spokoe to reporters, as he normally does, about an hour before tip-off. He said he had no reaction for Stephenson's comments.
In the 2012 conference semifinals between the Heat and Pacers, Stephenson made the choke sign with his hands across his throat after James missed free throws in Indiana's Game 3 victory. In Game 4, James had 40 points, 18 rebounds and nine assists in Miami's victory.
James didn't say if we would use Stephenson's comments as motivation.
"I don't need much (extra) motivation," He said. "It can help at times for sure when you're doubted and people write you off or don't believe in your ability to make things happen. You can use that as motivation if that's who you are. I've done it before. I've smiled and laughed at it as well. Depends what kind of mood I'm in."
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George said he doesn't mind Stephenson talking trash during the game but would prefer he not do it front of cameras, microphones and recorders.
"That's Lance – him being from Brooklyn. Being a New York guy. Being a street-ball player," George said. "That's what pumps him up and gets him going. It's different for different guys. I wouldn't say it's bad thing."
George said the Pacers have Stephenson's back.
"We don't want to feel like we're backing down from anyone," George said. "What Lance said is what he felt. We've just got to be smart about it."
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Pacers coach Frank Vogel didn't think Stephenson's comments would impact James' performance in Game 4 tonight.
"I don't Dwyane Wade, LeBron James and those guys are going to play harder than they're already playing," Vogel said.
James and Stephenson began talking to each other during Game 3 when Stephenson took a charge on James who then waited for Stephenson to get up and started jawing with him. James had words or looks for Stephenson throughout Game 3.
James talked to news reporters on Sunday before Stephenson made his comments but James was asked about the back-and-forth with Stephenson.
"One thing I'm not going to do is give y'all a storyline. I'm not going to do that. This is the Pacers versus the Heat. I don't get involved in that. I've already been involved in a LeBron vs. Stephenson in my playoff career. I'm not going to start with another Stephenson," James said, referring to his battles with then-Washington Wizards and Dallas Mavericks guard DeShawn Stevenson. "I'm not going to do it. You won't get me today."
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