Reporting from Boston
Tony Allen stood at his locker with a swollen upper lip that had eight fresh stitches. He's not sure how the cut got there. An errant elbow, the Celtics guard thinks, at some point during his team's 91-84 loss to the Lakers on Tuesday night in Game 3 of the NBA Finals, but he can't be certain.
What he knows, though, is what happened during the fourth quarter, when Kobe Bryant's sneaker caught him in the throat, causing him to writhe in pain on the floor.
"I slipped and he actually kicked me in the neck," Allen said. "That's what he did. I ain't too happy about that, neither. But he kicked me in my neck and it is what it is."
The alleged throat-kicking incident occurred with 8 minutes 39 seconds left in the fourth quarter. Bryant was curling off a screen on the right wing and Allen, who was chasing him, slipped as he came off the screen. Bryant launched a deep three-point jumper and replays showed his left foot catching Allen in the throat during the process.
Allen grabbed his neck, wincing in pain before he was substituted for forward Paul Pierce. Allen seemed to be fine after the game.
Was it accidental? Intentional?
"I mean, he's always trying to draw the foul and he kicks his legs out a lot when he shoots those long threes … to get contact," Allen said. "I didn't give him no contact because I slipped. Thank God I slipped, because I probably would've fouled him, but I took a kick in the neck and I couldn't breathe for a hot second."
Allen is one of three Celtics who usually guard Bryant, the others being Pierce and Ray Allen. The athletic guard has at times been the Celtics' most effective stopper on the Lakers star, but his minutes are limited because his offensive skills don't compare to Pierce's or Allen's.
On Tuesday, Allen scored seven points on three-for-four shooting.
And as for his cut lip, he said he'll look at the film to find out what happened. A reporter asked if it was Bryant who cut his lip, but Allen wanted to make sure everyone got it right.
"Let's get this straight: Kobe didn't bust my lip," Allen said. "It was a kick in the neck. That type of stuff happens throughout the battle. You're going to expect stuff like that: kicking, punching, scratching."
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