PHOENIX SUNS

Suns PG Cam Payne: ‘No vendettas’ after dust-up with Lakers’ Alex Caruso

May 24, 2021, 3:51 PM
Phoenix Suns guard Cameron Payne (15) throws the basketball at Los Angeles Lakers guard Alex Caruso...

Phoenix Suns guard Cameron Payne (15) throws the basketball at Los Angeles Lakers guard Alex Caruso (4) behind referee Bill Kennedy, right, during the second half of Game 1 of their NBA basketball first-round playoff series Sunday, May 23, 2021, in Phoenix. The Suns defeated the Lakers 99-90. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

(AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

Do we have a Goran Dragic-Sasha Vujacic situation on our hands?

It was more than a decade ago when the Suns’ Slovenian backup point guard and the Lakers’ Slovenian backup point guard clashed in the Western Conference Finals, the last time Phoenix was in the postseason.

There are no Slovenians involved in 2021, but Game 1 — a 99-90 Phoenix win — provided another altercation between backup guards from the Suns and Lakers.

A mad scramble following LeBron James’ free-throw miss led to a dust-up between Suns point guard Cam Payne and hard-nosed Lakers guard Alex Caruso. Payne was assessed two technicals, while Caruso and teammate Montrezl Harrell earned one apiece.

Payne had run into Caruso, and Caruso then took offense and attempted to tap the ball out of Payne’s hands. Payne threw the ball at Caruso’s feet, spurring Harrell to sprint across the court to break things up.

“I just felt like (Caruso) undercut me first and it was a no-call,” Payne told reporters Monday. “I didn’t mean to knock him … to the ground. Got to sell it. He fell. Then he came, retaliated and I retaliated. That’s probably the part I shouldn’t have did.

“It’s not something that I do. I apologized to every single player that walked in (to the locker room). After coach got done talking, I apologized to him. They was all on my side. They said they had my back. … I just want to win. That’s my only goal. I don’t have no vendettas against no players, not trying to get nobody. I’m just a competitor, to be honest.”

Payne may regret throwing the ball at Caruso after the Lakers guard reacted to being hit.

Even more weird, though, was that Harrell caused a gathering of both teams as he sprinted in the direction of the two guards and accidentally ran into Payne while attempting to separate the two players.

“It kind of came out of nowhere. I didn’t expect him to grab me. I was kind of weird,” Payne said. “What Trez did, I’m pretty sure it was all good intentions,” he added. “Asked me if I was good and I was fine. The play was over to me, it was all good — tick, tick, tick, I was going to be cool.”

“It was weird how they gave out the Ts, but it’s all part of the game, all part of the series, I’ll say.”

A series that got a little testy just one game in.

Penguin Air

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