LOS ANGELES -- Tristan Thompson had reason to smile on Sunday night following the Cleveland Cavaliers' 125-120 win over the Los Angeles Lakers: His two front teeth, knocked loose by the Lakers' Julius Randle, stayed in his mouth and his league-leading ironman streak will stay intact.
"If I didn't have a good mouth guard, I'd have a tough time having a good dinner tonight, so God bless my mouth guard," Thompson said after taking the tooth-rattling hit in the third quarter and missing the rest of the contest. "It's part of the game. Whoever says basketball ain't a contact sport definitely lied."
Thompson immediately subbed out of the game and retreated to the visitor's locker room. Randle was called for a technical foul for catching Thompson in the mouth with his elbow.
"It was a pretty good hit, but I thought about just running down, going through the play and then fouling after [to stop the clock]," Thompson said. "But I was like, you know, dripping blood. Let me just get off the court and take the timeout."
Thompson was attended to by the Lakers' team dentist who straightened Thompson's teeth and affixed makeshift braces on the spot.
"Their team doc came in, their dentist came in and numbed it up, put it back in place, gave me the throwback braces," Thompson said. "Metal it up, so I'm fine."
Thompson said he would have to wear the braces for a couple of weeks.
"Two front teeth," Thompson said, flashing a smile to show off his metal work to a group of reporters. "All I want for Christmas is my two front teeth."
Cavs coach Tyronn Lue said he believed Thompson's league-leading streak of 439 consecutive games played would continue.
"He was on the bench smiling with his mouthpiece in," Lue said. "I don't think he feels too much pain."
Asked how Thompson looked, Lue added, "It was nasty."
A.C. Green, who set the league's all-time ironman mark with 1,192 consecutive games played, also played through losing two teeth from an elbow from J.R. Reid during the 1995-96 season when he played for the Phoenix Suns.
Add it to the list of obstacles that Thompson has already overcome to keep his streak alive, including a bout of food poisoning when the Cavs were in L.A. several seasons ago that required him to receive IV fluids before tipoff.
"I've been very lucky, fortunate," Thompson said. "You play enough basketball games, stuff like this happens. It's just part of the game. We've got guys here to fix it up and get you back on the court."
It was the Cavs' third mouth malady in about a month. DeAndre Liggins missed a game against Oklahoma City he was scheduled to start in because a tooth issue caused him a migraine headache. Earlier in March, Iman Shumpert chipped both of his front teeth in a game against the Miami Heat.
Which tooth tale was the most terrible?
"Well Shump ain't have no teeth for a night," said Thompson, "so I think I'm good."