The Los Angeles Lakers no longer have a perfect record in the 2016-2017 NBA season after falling to the Utah Jazz, 96-89 on Friday night. They now sit at one win and one loss, although they certainly gave their all in front of an inhospitable Utah crowd.
Lakers head coach Luke Walton was frustrated at a missed opportunity after the game, as he justifiably felt that the team had let an opportunity to pick up a road win slip away. However, he also expressed his displeasure with the officials according to Tania Ganuli of the Los Angeles Times. The Jazz were awarded 40 free throws on the night compared to just 21 for the Lakers, with several calls looking questionable at best:
“Utah’s a tough team at home. They’re well coached. We missed some good looks. They shot 40 free throws, which is a little ridiculous to me but that’s kind of what happens when you play here in Utah.”
The Lakers did indeed miss a few good looks on the night, ultimately shooting just 38 percent from the field. They endured several prolonged scoring droughts, which certainly contributed to their undoing. However, the foul calls were the primary source of frustration for Los Angeles. Timofey Mozgov, who was called for five fouls, was issued a techinical foul when he voiced his displeasure over the calls.
Of course, not every foul was unjustified, and the young Lakers were sometimes over-aggressive with their defense, putting themselves into situations where a whistle was likely. Jazz guard George Hill was a particular annoyance, attacking and slamming into defenders to get himself nine free throw attempts. Bigs Rudy Gobert and Derrick Favors also proved to be a challenge, shooting eight and 11 free throws, respectively. Favors output was noticeable in part because he did his damage in only 20 minutes, as this was his first game back after an injury.
While the Lakers weren’t thrilled with the outcome, the fact that they hung tough against a team expected to be a playoff team in the West is a positive. Things won’t get any easier, as the Lakers take on Russell Westbrook and the Oklahoma City Thunder on Sunday.