Boston Celtics' Marcus Smart described JR Smith as "like a bully" after the Cleveland Cavaliers guard's flagrant foul on Al Horford in game two of the Eastern Conference finals.
The Cavs slipped 2-0 behind in the series with a 107-94 defeat in Boston, where Smith's fourth-quarter clash with Horford and Smart was a major flashpoint.
Smith pushed an airborne Horford in the lane and drew a flagrant. Smart reacted angrily at the time and was still irked when he faced reporters afterwards.
"You take two hands to the back, it's a dirty shot," he told a news conference. "You can't allow that to keep happening.
"It's not the first time JR has done some dirty stuff, especially playing against us. He's known for it, especially playing against us. We know that.
"He's like a bully. Keep letting the bully keep picking on you and he's going to keep picking on you. You've got to stand up and that's what I tried to do."
Horford was grateful for Smart's support, adding: "I felt like it was uncalled for, that type of play. But that's the one thing about the group of our guys: we have each other's backs.
"We have each other's backs," says Al Horford.— Boston Celtics (@celtics) May 16, 2018
Marcus Smart had his back tonight
"It is what it is. We moved on to the next play and locked in even more after that."
Smith acknowledged the decision was correct and denied any malice in his actions.
"It was a good call. I blatantly pushed him," he said. "It wasn't like I was trying to low bridge him or something, just trying to make sure he didn't get it in.
"It was a good, hard foul - I can understand why it was given."
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