The hard fouls keep coming for LeBron James.
For the second time in less than a week, James was on the receiving end of a flagrant foul 1 when Toronto Raptors center Jonas Valanciunas tackled the 6-foot-8, 250-pound Cleveland Cavaliers forward to the ground as he drove to the hoop in the third quarter of Wednesday night's game in Toronto.
"I wasn't trying to hurt him, I was just trying to stop him from dunking the ball," Valanciunas said, according to the Associated Press.
James got off of floor and made another trip to the free-throw line, where he's gone 411 times this season -- second-most behind only Houston's James Harden -- though his two shots fell short after the takedown.
"I don't want to get too much involved in it because I don't want to cry about it, because it's not like I'm not able to get back up, but it's a lot of plays that are just not basketball plays," James said, according to ESPN. "And for me, I need to maintain my focus and understand how important the game is, but at the same time, protect myself as well."
James went on to score 15 of his 29 points in the fourth quarter, helping the Cavaliers to a 120-112 win.
A few days earlier, it was Harden who was charged with a flagrant foul 1 for kicking James in the groin, a foul which the NBA later upgraded to a flagrant foul 2, costing the Rockets guard a one-game suspension.
For James, the pounding has taken a toll, and at times this season the four-time NBA most valuable player has appeared less than invincible.
The 30-year-old is in his 12th NBA season with 893 career starts -- add an additional 158 to include the playoffs -- but as the calendar flipped into the new year, he was forced to sit out for two weeks with knee and back injuries.
After steadily rising each year since 2006-07, James' field-goal percentage is down to 49.1%, from 56.7% last season. He's also seen a dip in his free-throw shooting, down to 71.5% from his career average of 74.5% and career-high of 78% in 2008-09.
Despite those drops, James is still one of the most dangerous players on the court, scoring at a clip of 26.3 points per game while logging 36.2 minutes per game.
Figures like that mean it's likely Wednesday's incident won't be the last time he receives a hard foul.
"Maybe I got to protect myself a little bit more too," James said.
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