Lakers’ problems with officiating come to a head after crucial no-call in Boston: ‘We were cheated’

Boston – LeBron James Sitting in front of his locker with his knees covered in snow, he stared blankly ahead, searching for an answer to a problem that had plagued him for weeks.

“I don’t understand,” James repeated to himself Los Angeles Lakers’ 125-121 overtime loss to Boston Celtics Saturday at TD Garden.

For weeks, James’ frustration bubbled over the way he was performing this season. Within seconds of finishing against the rules CelticsIt erupted into one of the sport’s biggest regular-season stages: a primetime matchup between the league’s fiercest rivals.

With four seconds left and the game tied at 105, James hit a layup Malcolm Broughton And easily came to the edge. As James extended his left arm for a layup, Jayson Tatum Spin and swipe down, knocking off James’ hand and missing a point-blank attempt as time runs out.

To James’ disbelief, there was no whistle.

He immediately stepped around, gesturing with his left hand to highlight the point of contact. James then wandered off in an unusually emotional display. Desperation gripped him and he collapsed on the floor unable to contain his anger.

“You saw My reaction,” James said matter-of-factly when asked which call he reacted to.

Patrick BeverleyProud to have his teammates’ backs, he grabbed a nearby camera from a base photographer and showed the referee the picture, earning a technical foul before overtime began and igniting a chain of memes.

After the game, team president Eric Lewis admitted that the referees missed Tatum’s contact on James’ layup attempt.

“There was contact,” Lewis said. β€œAt that time, during the game, we didn’t see a mistake. The crew missed the play.

Anthony DavisHe spoke to the media in front of his locker, a few feet away from James, who was uninvited and overall authoritative.

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“(Tatum) fouled him,” Davis said. “He cheated on him. Clearly. Clearly. It’s bullsβ€”. … It’s unacceptable. And I guarantee nothing will happen to the tips. We were cheated tonight, honestly. It was a blatant mistake. … It’s unacceptable to be honest. The tips were bad. They Tonight were worse.

The locker room scene postgame was tense and tragic. The soldiers quickly left. Every conversation involves questioning and criticizing the final possession, as well as wondering why referees can’t be punished more severely for missing a call that costs a team a game.

Beverly and Russell Westbrook Media declined to speak postgame.

too Lakers Instructor Darwin Hamm, usually measured by his analysis of officiating, looked very disappointed as he spoke.

“The more you try not to put it in power, the harder it becomes,” Hamm said.

The Lakers have suffered several recent losses in which crucial crunch time calls have not gone in their favor. Dallas, Philadelphia And Sacramento.

In their double overtime loss to the Mavericks, James was fouled Christian Wood On a similar play at the end of the first overtime, the foul was not called.

Had those calls gone correctly in the Lakers’ favor, as well as the final possession against the Celtics, the 23-27 Lakers, 13th in the West, could be 27-23 and fourth in the conference.

“I watch basketball every day,” James said. “I watch sports every day. And I don’t see this happening to anybody else. It’s weird.

The Celtics (39 free-throw attempts) shot twice as many free throws as the Lakers (20). James attempted just six free throws, Tatum (12) and nearly half as many Jaylen Brown (11)

“The best player on earth doesn’t get the call,” Hamm said. “It’s amazing.”

James, who finished with 41 points on 15-for-30 shooting, was nearly ready for the Lakers’ win, saying he felt he wasn’t as authoritative as other stars.

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“It’s challenging,” James said. “I do not understand. Anybody in this league who shoots double-digit free throws a night, I just don’t get it. I don’t understand that.”

Hamm hypothesized that this discrepancy was due to James’ playing style and cues Giannis Antetokounmpo and Shaquille O’Neal were tough players to referee based on their strength, power and physicality.

“He’s a guy who decides to play the right way … plays a strong, physical brand of basketball, and, he doesn’t fumble or fail or he doesn’t scream when he shoots the ball, which I see tons of other players do, and he gets punished for that,” Hamm said. … People who play physical and try to focus on finishing plays, sometimes it doesn’t work in their favor. But you see other guys grunt every shot or everything they hit … They’re the ones getting the whistles.

James admitted that his gut reaction was due to emotions that had brewed throughout the season β€” and the irritation of the calls that led directly to the losses.

“No, it’s building,” James said. “It’s been building because you’ve seen some of the games we’ve lost this year with missed calls late in the game. We actually had a chance to win the game. Second one for me in the last few weeks: Against Dallas, we had a chance to win on a foul call. If a four-point play is called, kβ€” I had a chance to tie the game the other day (against Sacramento). I don’t understand.”

The Lakers still had a chance to win in overtime, but the Celtics took a six-point lead in the first minute as the Lakers clearly executed what had just happened.

The emotional carryover was ultimately too much for the team to handle, at least in a hostile road environment against the league’s best team.

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“You’re still thinking about it,” Davis said. “To be honest, you shouldn’t be in that situation. You shouldn’t play too long.

The Lakers have already been in contact with the league, but with the power play looming, they don’t know what the best course of action would be.

“I mean, we have different ways. “But after the fact, it’s like you hope it’s more consistent.”

James said he would not contact the league.

“No, I didn’t get into it,” James said. “Our organization decides they want to do it, and that’s great, but it’s not going to changeβ€”.”

The Lakers are no strangers to heartbreaking losses. They’ve been one of the league’s worst teams in crunch time this season, losing badly a dozen or so times. That’s why Saturday’s loss is so hard to accept. They were ok there. They dominated for most of the game – and they needed this win badly.

Perhaps if the Lakers had a better record, their reaction to the blown call would have been milder. But when the Lakers are playing for playoff and play-in positioning in April, this loss could come back to haunt them.

A false call for Los Angeles to begin their five-game road trip with a statement win. They went toe-to-toe with the better team NBA For the second time this season.

But instead, they’re looking for explanations for why so many calls keep going against them in key moments, waiting for the moment they finally turn the corner and cement themselves in the postseason picture.

“Like I told you, we have no room for error,” James said. “And it was one of the best games we’ve played all year, and for it to fall on someone else β€” someone else’s judgment or lack of judgment is ridiculous. It’s ridiculous.

(Photo: Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

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