Kevin Garnett apparently wanted to channel his inner Lance Stephenson on Saturday night.
Garnett, playing in the second game of a back-to-back for only the second time in six opportunities this season, got under David West's skin by blowing in his ear / face with 6:54 remaining in the first quarter. It evoked visions of Game 5 of the Eastern Conference finals last spring, when Stephenson blew sweet nothings into LeBron James' ear and it went viral.
West immediately shoved Garnett and was slapped with a technical foul.
"Yeah, I didn't like that," West said. "I don't want to play those games. We are out there to play basketball, so let's play basketball. Everyone's kind of looking at me trying to figure out what made me push him. I told them he blew in my face -- an aggressive blow at that. I think Lance's was more sensual. That was an aggressive blow.
"I felt the . . . I don't know what you call it. But it was just too much."
Garnett, who had six points and one rebound in 14 minutes, didn't speak with reporters afterward. The fact that he played was a mild upset in itself, but the 38-year-old got a little more recovery time, given that Friday's game was at 1 p.m.
Lionel Hollins said the decision to insert him into the lineup was simple.
"Because he said he could play," the Nets coach said. "They come and tell me whether he's playing or not, and he said he's playing, and I appreciate that."
Despite last night's antics, Garnett is having a pretty good season. He has three double-doubles through 25 games compared with three in 54 games a season ago and his .324 defensive rebounding percentage -- the percentage of available defensive rebounds collected by a player -- led the league entering the night.
"He's the best. All-time warrior," Pacers coach Frank Vogel said. "Nothing but respect for what he means to this league and his approach throughout the year."
With the Nets bringing Deron Williams and Brook Lopez off the bench in the past two games, it has created a somewhat unusual scenario for opposing coaches.
"It's a unique challenge, yeah," Pacers coach Frank Vogel said. "You see those guys come off the bench . . . Their first unit is playing really well. So you have to credit Mason [Plumlee] and [Jarrett] Jack for playing so well with that starting group."
"But we've had a situation like this, where you come back from injury trying to find your rhythm and trying to get your legs under you. Some nights you are going to be in All-Star form and some nights you are not."