NBA

Lakers fume at officiating in loss to Suns

By Sports Desk February 26, 2024

LeBron James and Darvin Ham were left frustrated with the officiating after the Los Angeles Lakers went down to the Phoenix Suns.

The Lakers lost 123-113 in Arizona on Sunday, with Los Angeles awarded just eight free throws in contrast to Phoenix's tally of 19.

It was a season-low for the Lakers, who averaged 24.7 free throws per game heading into the game.

Of those eight free throws, none came in the second half, and James was left exasperated.

"A lot of people, a lot of coaches, a lot of teams are like, 'That's all the Lakers do is get to the free throw line,'" James said.

"It's like this narrative out there that that's all we do is get to the free throw line. I mean, we have attackers. That's what we do. We have attackers. Yeah, we shoot the ball from the perimeter, but we're not shooting 40 to 50 3s a game. We're not that team. We don't have the luxury of being that team. So, working it into the paint, that's what we're really good at.

"To have eight free throw attempts is definitely not us. I know, definitely, I got hit a couple of times when I got to the paint tonight that wasn't called. But it is what it is."

Lakers coach Ham, though, was left reserved.

"I'm not one to use referees as an excuse," he said.

"But it's becoming increasingly tough because of the inconsistency. I'm seeing our guys get the same contact on them as we're supposedly committing. And the whistle is not being blown."

Anthony Davis did not record a single free throw attempt for the first time in a game this season.

He added: "We live on getting to the line. We attack the basket.

"Especially how much we struggle from the 3, we're kind of up and down, so we try to live in the paint and get to the line.

"I'm not sure if it was just the refs missing it or they weren't fouling. I felt I got fouled a couple of times. But that's part of our identity, our DNA, is getting to the line and guys catching rhythms like that and then playing from there."

While the Suns are sixth in the Western Conference after the win, the Lakers are in ninth, with a 31-28 record.

In other news on Sunday, the NBA banned five players – including Jimmy Butler – for their involvement in an on-court spat in Friday's meeting between the Miami Heat and the New Orleans Pelicans.

Butler, Nikola Jovic and Naji Marshall were each suspended for one game without pay, while Jose Alvarado and Thomas Bryant were slapped with three-game bans.

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