BOSTON — The lead referee in the Los Angeles Lakers’ 125-121 overtime loss to the Celtics on Saturday admitted there was a shooting error. Jason Tatum against LeBron James In the final seconds of regulation, leaving Los Angeles in a rage about yet another referee-related defeat.
The Lakers had a golden opportunity to take down the leading Celtics when James drove to the hoop with the score tied with 4.0 seconds remaining. He reached the basket when he attempted a left-handed pass and was hit on the arm by Tatum, missing the shot just before time expired.
James immediately turned to the umpire positioned along the baseline, and grabbed his arm to indicate where contact was occurring. He jumped up and down, slapped the hardwood, put his hands on his head in disbelief, and finally fell to his knees in the paint and put his head in his arms on the ground.
“There was a connection,” crew chief Eric Lewis told a pool reporter after the game. “At the time, during the game, we didn’t see a foul. The crew missed the play.”
The admission was the latest in what the Lakers see as a string of poor performances in their games, reminiscent of recent losses in Dallas, Philadelphia and Sacramento when the calls were not in their favour.
“[Tatum] I spoiled it. I spoiled him. clearly. It is clear ” Anthony Davis. “It’s bulls—…that’s unacceptable. And I guarantee nothing will happen to the referees. We got cheated tonight, honestly. It’s a blatant mistake. … bad, it was bad tonight.”
James, who finished sixth in the league in scoring with 30.2 points per game, averaged 6.2 free throw attempts per game—the fewest among any of the league’s top eight scorers.
“It’s a challenge,” said James, after finishing with 41 points on 15-for-30 shooting. “I don’t get it. I’m attacking the paint, just like every player in this league shoots double-digit free throws a night, and I don’t get it. I don’t get it.”
James attempted six free throws against the Celtics and fired the Los Angeles 20 as a team. The Celtics nearly doubled that amount, making it 34-for-39. He said the disappointing streak of officiating makes it look like his team is on target.
“I watch basketball every day,” he said. “I watch the games every day. I don’t see it happening to anyone else. It’s just weird.”
Lakers coach Darvin Hamm, who usually refrains from criticizing the referee, could not deny the influence of the referees on the result on Saturday.
“As much as you try not to put him on power, it becomes increasingly difficult,” Hamm said. “The best player on earth can’t take a call. It’s amazing.”
Hamm asked for more consistency from the judges, explaining how Jaylen Brown He was awarded one and one free throw with the officials calling a foul Patrick Beverly into the play before James drives in at the last second. He also said that James’ strength and body were working against him.
“[He] He plays a strong kind of basketball, and just because he doesn’t fumble or drop or yell when he hits the ball, like I see a lot of other guys do, he gets punished for that,” Hamm said. Giannis [Antetokounmpo]. I saw the same thing when I was a Shaq player [O’Neal] era. Those guys who play physical and really try to focus on finishing plays, and sometimes it just doesn’t work in their favour. But then you see other guys whining at every take or every time they get bumped…and they’re the ones who get the whistles.”
The disappointed Lakers threw in several tweaks that could be made to improve management. Hamm suggested having four officials, or changing the challenge rule where if the coach uses it and it succeeds, the coach can use it again. Hamm called a challenge with 3:41 left in the fourth quarter when Davis was called out for a foul on Tatum, with the Lakers leading 96-95. The challenge was successful and the call was overturned, but Ham had no challenge left to execute on the James layup attempt at the buzzer.
Davis called for more accountability from those responsible.
“I guarantee that if the refs start fining them for missed calls, it will be much better,” Davis said. “But nothing will be done.”
Lewis also called two technical fouls against the Lakers, one against him Dennis Schroeder in the third quarter for collapsing to the floor in response to being called for a foul on Tatum and Beverley at the start of the OT to borrow a camera from one of the court’s photographers to show digital evidence of Tatum’s contact with James at the end of the fourth.
“His actions were inappropriate in addressing discontent over the lack of contact,” Lewis said of Beverly Tech in a pool report.
Boston outscored Los Angeles 8-2 in the first minute of overtime and never looked back, holding on for the win.
“You keep thinking about it,” Davis said of the impact of the missed call relay. “You’re not supposed to be in that position, to be honest. You’re not supposed to play overtime.”
The loss dropped the Lakers to 23-27, 13th in the Western Conference. If they’ve won the last four games they’ve contested against Dallas, Philadelphia, Sacramento, and Boston, a 27-23 record would put them in fourth place in the West.
“It’s one of the best matches we’ve played all year, and it’s ridiculous that it falls to someone else’s referee or not to referee,” James said. “It’s absurd.”