LeBron James took the high road Wednesday night after Lance Stephenson went back to trying to irritate him, this time by blowing into his ear. But Ray Allen called the Pacers guard's antics, which included trying to listen in on one of the Heat's team huddles, "buffoonery."
In the locker room after Indiana's 93-90 Game 5 victory Wednesday night, Paul George wasn't watching highlights of his two 3-pointers in the final two minutes that gave his team its winning margin -- he was watching slow-motion replays of Stephenson's latest maneuver aimed at annoying James.
"I have a lot of respect for him," Stephenson said. "He's a great player. You've got to do whatever it takes to get under him and win the game because he's that good. So if I got to do all that stuff, I'm going to do that to win the game."
Stephenson -- who only Wednesday morning announced he had learned his lesson about trying to bait James with shenanigans -- blew in James' ear during a stoppage in play in the second half of the Pacers' win, which cut their Eastern Conference finals deficit to 3-2.
"I hope his breath wasn't too bad for LeBron," George said.
"I blew in my wife's ear before," James said. "That was definitely a defensive tactic."
James cracked a small smile and shook his head after Stephenson's latest attempt to get under his skin.
"I'm just here to play basketball, man. All the extracurricular activities, I don't really get into," said James, who scored a playoff career-low seven points in the game due mostly to foul trouble. "I'm just trying to win. We need one more win to get to the Finals. That's my only concern."
"That's the second time that's happened to you," said Dwyane Wade, remembering that Stephenson used the same tactic with James in the conference finals last season.
Stephenson declined to get into the specifics of his maneuver.
"Just playing physical basketball," he told reporters and smiled, according to NBA.com. "Doing whatever it takes to get the W. We all played good. I'm just happy we got the W tonight. Just having fun and playing ball."
He didn't back down Thursday when asked about his desire to pester the Heat.
"Just playing ball, man, having fun and enjoying the moment," Stephenson said.
When Stephenson, who finished with 12 points, five assists and five rebounds, attempted to listen in on one of Miami's huddles, he drew a glare from Heat coach Erik Spoelstra.
"I just wanted to hear what he had to say about what they were trying to do on offense," Stephenson told reporters after the game. "They were trying to run a pick-and-roll, and I wanted to hear it."
Indiana coach Frank Vogel didn't seem to mind the huddle move, although he suggested the ear-blowing decision was a bit much.
"People are in my huddle all the time. Every player in the NBA does that. That's nothing," Vogel said Thursday. "Blowing in his face probably crosses the line. That's not really who we are. We want to be a competitive team, but we don't want to cross the line."
Allen called Stephenson's antics "buffoonery" that is just making "himself look bad."
"As players, we just are professional, we come out and do our jobs. He's young. He'll grow up," Allen told reporters, according to Bleacher Report.
Pacers center Roy Hibbert didn't see Stephenson blow into James' ear but said, "Lance is Lance."
In trying to antagonize James, Stephenson might be doing more harm than good in the long run.
"You just hope he doesn't poke the bear," Hibbert said, according to NBA.com.
Before Game 4 of the series, Stephenson made headlines by saying James' trash talk on the floor was a "sign of weakness." James then went out and scored 32 points and grabbed 10 rebounds in the Heat's 102-90 victory.
Stephenson was asked whether he's worried he's giving James too much motivation. James also had 40 points, 18 rebounds and nine assists in a playoff game two years ago that immediately followed Stephenson making a choking sign to him after a missed free throw.
"He should be motivated anyway," Stephenson said. "There's a lot on the line. Like I said, we're all motivated, and we're all trying to get one thing. We're all trying to win. So he's definitely motivated. He's motivated, and I know he's going to come out even stronger in his building. He's got his fans behind him."
Game 6 is Friday night in Miami.