DETROIT — The Detroit Pistons improved to 11-5 on Sunday with a win over the Minnesota Timberwolves thanks in no small part to Pistons guard Reggie Jackson icing Jimmy Butler when Bulls guard was at the free throw line late with a chance to tie the game. LeBron James, whose Cleveland Cavaliers face Jackson and the Pistons on Monday, said Jackson was taking a page out of his own book with the tactic.
“I’ve done it before,” James said at shootaround Monday morning. “I won a playoff series before doing that actually. So, I’m all for it.”
It was actually the first playoff series win of James’ illustrious career when the Cavs beat the Washington Wizards in the first round of the 2006 Eastern Conference playoffs and it was aided by some chicanery.
In overtime of Game 6, with the Cavs up 3-2 in the series, Wizards guard Gilbert Arenas went to the free throw line with 14.1 seconds left and Washington up 113-112. Arenas missed the first free throw.
Following the miss, James approached Arenas at the line, patted him on the chest and imparted a message.
“If you miss both of these free throws, the game is over,” James said, according to the Washington Post.
Arenas indeed missed and Cavs guard Damon Jones hit a go-ahead corner jumper with 4.8 seconds left to give Cleveland the lead. The win was sealed a few moments later when Caron Butler missed a desperation 3.
Butler was fouled on a 3-pointer with 6.2 seconds left on Sunday and the Wolves trailing by 3. After he made his first two free throws, Jackson stepped into the lane to talk to Detroit’s Stanley Johnson, thus interrupting Butler’s rhythm. While Arenas never made eye contact with James back in 2006, Butler immediately shot an eyeroll in Jackson’s direction on Sunday and then went on to miss the third free throw. The Pistons held on to win the game.