Jonas Valanciunas makes LeBron James mad with flagrant foul

Jonas Valanciunas threw LeBron James to the floor in the Raptors' Wednesday night game against the Cavaliers.

John E. Sokolowski/John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Spo

Jonas Valanciunas made LeBron James mad Wednesday night.

James retaliated on the scoreboard after Valanciunas tackled him on a drive late in the third quarter.

James scored 14 of his 29 points in the fourth and matched a season high with 14 assists and the Cleveland Cavaliers held on to beat theToronto Raptors 120-112.

Valanciunas was called for a flagrant-1 foul after he took down James on the play that drew a loud cheer from the sellout crowd of 19,800.

"The game is more important than trying to deliver a hard foul," said James, kicked in the groin by Houston’s James Harden on Sunday. "It’s the old elementary school house rule that the second guy always gets caught. You just relax and play the game."

James bristled when Valanciunas offered to help him up, and later when asked about his response.

"Why would I need his help (getting) up?" James asked. "My teammates will come get me. That’s all that matters."

The foul was upgraded to flagrant following a video review.

"I wasn’t trying to hurt him, I was just trying to stop him from dunking," Valanciunas said.

James has taken some notably tough fouls lately. There were some flagrants in the Cavaliers’ recent game against the Rockets, including Harden foot-nudging him in the friendlies. 

It feels like this all coincides with the addition of Kendrick Perkins in Cleveland. As soon as LeBron gets himself a recognized NBA bodyguard, he starts taking more hits — €”not that James wasn’t getting knocked around before.

There probably aren’t two players in the league who get fouled harder than James and Blake Griffin, and there’s a reason for that: They’re so big and they move so fast.

Historically, guys that size who move at that speed €”get knocked around. It’s part of the gig. And when you’re as tremendous a finisher as James, people would much rather send you to the line than give you the layup or tomahawk slam or whatever other thing you’ll do to ensure the ball goes in the hoop. Thus, you see plays like Valanciunas’ when the last line of defense gets caught flat-footed. Just don’t let Jonas play linebacker.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.