BOSTON (CBS) — For a few moments on Tuesday night, all of Cleveland was holding their breath.
LeBron James had to leave the floor late in the second quarter of Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Finals in Boston after taking a Jayson Tatum shoulder to his jaw underneath the basket. James missed the second of his two free throws and J.R. Smith had to commit an intentional foul on the ensuing Boston possession so the Cavaliers could take James out of the game.
He left the floor for the Cleveland locker room, which drew some boos from a frustrated Boston crowd, but James wasn’t gone for very long. He checked in a few minutes later, diagnosed with a neck strain, and continued to have his way with the Celtics. At least momentarily.
After scoring just 15 points in Cleveland’s Game 1 loss, James scored 25 points in the first half of Game 2. He finished with 42 points, 12 assists and 10 rebounds, but the Cavaliers fell 107-94 and now trail the Celtics 2-0 in the series.
James called Tatum’s contact “obviously incidental,” and he didn’t think the collision impacted his game the rest of the way. His head coach felt differently.
“When he came back, I don’t think he had that same punch he had before he left,” Cavaliers head coach Ty Lue said after the loss.
The Cavaliers now trail Boston 2-0 in the series, with Game 3 in Cleveland on Saturday night.