Kyrie Irving plays enforcer after LeBron James gets knocked down

Altman had served as assistant GM under former Cavaliers general manager David Griffin, whose contract was not renewed last month.

Kyrie Irving committeda flagrant foul about a minute into Friday night's game against the 76erswhen he shoved forward Justin Anderson into the Philadelphia bench.

It lookedintentional — and Irving later admitted it definitely wasintentional, payback for a play moments earlier when Anderson appeared to knock LeBron James to the court near the free-throw line.

"Whether it was malicious or not ... I kinda saw Justin kinda lower his shoulder and knock down Bron," Irving told reporters after the game. "I was like ... I gotta do something, I've got to protect my brother. A lot of late hits on Bron, a lot of guys trying to get one over on him. It's over for that, it's over for that."

James appreciated the backup.

"He was protecting me from getting shoved. It's about it being a brotherhood around here and not letting anything happen to each other," he said.

Anderson denied he intentionally knocked down James, but he also didn't take offense at Irving's enforcer move. Fans looking for a fight on this night would have to look elsewhere.

"He was just protecting his teammate. I think he saw LeBron went down ... He fell, and it was kind of weird because I didn't think he was going to fall as big as he was," Anderson said. "It wasn't a dirty play on my end and I don't think it was dirty on his. I was fine and we continued to move on."

The Cavaliers went on to win, 122-105, to snap a three-game losing streak and remain a half-game behind the Celtics for the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference.

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