Nazr Mohammed says LeBron James’ argument off target
BY JOE COWLEY firstname.lastname@example.org March 29, 2013 8:36PM
The facts: 1, CSN, 1000-AM.
Updated: May 1, 2013 3:38PM
LeBron James’ argument was heard, but Bulls backup center Nazr Mohammed dismissed his case.
After the Bulls snapped the Heat’s 27-game winning streak Wednesday at the United Center, James expressed frustration over some hard fouls, deeming them borderline basketball plays.
Mohammed deemed it much ado about nothing, especially when compared to the NBA of 15 years ago.
“Yeah, honestly, I didn’t think it was that physical of a game,’’ Mohammed said. ‘‘I hate to say that, but it was a regular basketball game. It wasn’t any more physical than any other night. There are some nights that games are a little less physical, but it wasn’t playoff-level physical.
“[James] probably felt that he got hit hard a couple of times and took some shots, so, of course, that’s something he would want to discuss with you guys afterward. LeBron is a star of our league, so if he says something, it’s definitely going to get some attention. Not much more to say about that.’’
The two plays in question were Kirk Hinrich wrapping him up on a breakaway and bringing him to the floor and Taj Gibson giving James a friendly little horse collar when he drove the lane later in the game.
“Those are not basketball plays,’’ James said, ‘‘and it’s been happening all year, and I’ve been able to keep my cool. I try to tell [coach Erik Spoelstra], ‘Let’s not worry about it too much.’ ’’
James obviously was worrying because he picked up a flagrant-1 foul in the fourth after throwing an elbow at Carlos Boozer as he tried to get over a pick.
“It’s getting to me a little bit because every time I try to defend myself, I’ve got to face the consequences of a flagrant or a technical foul or whatever the case may be,’’ James said. “It’s tough. It’s very tough, and I’m not sitting here crying about anything because I play the game at a high level. I play with a lot of aggression. I understand some of the plays are on the borderline of a basketball play or not. I don’t know. It’s frustrating.’’
The speculation is that James picked the game against the Bulls to make a statement so the league would keep an eye out for the rough stuff with the playoffs approaching.
“I’ve been around long enough to know that when a guy is on your team and he’s getting hit, it always looks harder and worse than when he’s on the other team and you’re doing the hitting or someone else is doing the hitting,’’ Mohammed said. “Definitely, if I was a teammate of his, I would feel for his side of it, but I’m not. I’m an opponent, and as an opponent, I think it was just nice, hard fouls, hard basketball.’’
Basically, it’s the type of basketball the short-handed Bulls need to play with only 12 regular-season games left.
Marco Belinelli (strained abdomen) and Joakim Noah (plantar fasciitis, right foot) practiced Friday, but coach Tom Thibodeau said they were game-time decisions for Saturday against the Mavericks.
Nothing has changed on the Derrick Rose front, and Richard Hamilton (back) is still out.
“This is the time of year you want to make sure you’re cleaning things up in terms of health,’’ Thibodeau said. “You don’t want things to linger. You want them to get as healthy as possible. So we’ll see where [Noah and Belinelli are Saturday].’’