-- NEW ORLEANS -- Kendrick Perkins was ejected in the fourth quarter of the New Orleans Pelicans' 117-112 loss to the Portland Trail Blazers on Friday night after striking the chin and neck area of Damian Lillard with his forearm in an attempt to stop the point guard from scoring.
Perkins was assessed a flagrant foul 2, a call upheld after video review, for the blow that sent Lillard to the ground.
"It was dirty for sure, but it's a physical game," Lillard said. "Some guys impact their team just by doing stuff like that. Maybe that's his way of impacting their team. I don't know, but I'm from Oakland. I've been punched before. I've been tackled before. It was a cheap play, but to me it didn't feel as bad as it might have looked. My focus is on winning the game, and it was probably two points easier than it probably would have been if I had gotten to the rim."
Blazers center Mason Plumlee immediately took exception to the foul; he and Perkins had to be separated by players on the court.
"I thought it was a dirty play," Plumlee said. "The way it looked in the moment, it didn't look good. I think the refs made the right call but between me and him, there was nothing. I wasn't sure if he was trying to hurt people, which wouldn't be cool. When you see a guy go down on a similar play to a horse-collar tackle in football, it is not a good look."
Perkins was initially guarding Plumlee before a screen switched him onto Lillard at the top of the key. The fleet-footed Lillard quickly drove past the 6-foot-10, 270-pound center, who then hit him as he prepared to go up with a shot from inside the free throw line.
"First of all, it looks a lot worse than it was," Pelicans coach Alvin Gentry said. "I think what Perk was trying to do was that he was trying to take the foul and he was going to grab [Lillard] and wrap him up. And then when he grabbed him around the chest, obviously his momentum took him forward so it looked like he went for his neck -- which, Perk is not that kind of player. He's not that kind of player at all. He was trying to take a foul on him and it appeared [to be] more."
Lillard finished with 33 points, eight rebounds and six assists. His pass to C.J. McCollum for a 3-pointer with one minute left gave the Blazers a two-point lead they never relinquished.
Perkins was not available for comment after the game.