Lakers News: D’Angelo Russell Tells Referees He Doesn’t Need Help By Getting To Free-Throw Line
D'Angelo Russell, Lakers
Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Since 2020, the Los Angeles Lakers have built their roster to have bigger and more physical players. The modern NBA places a premium on outside shooting, but the Lakers zagged and decided to go back to the old days of bruising basketball in the painted area.

With a frontcourt led by LeBron James and Anthony Davis, it made sense for Los Angeles to utilize its strengths and overwhelm opponents over the course of a game.

During the 2023-24 season, the Lakers have been one of the better teams when it comes to initiating contact and drawing fouls. However, in the loss to the Phoenix Suns on Sunday afternoon, Los Angeles only shot eight free throws the entire game.

Head coach Darvin Ham was critical of the inconsistent officiating, while D’Angelo Russell simply acknowledged that the free throw line is the team’s style of play, although he said it isn’t his personally and wasn’t willing to use the lack of calls as an excuse for the loss.

“I don’t know,” Russell said. “I don’t even play for free throws. I don’t shoot free throws. So I don’t know how the refs control that, I don’t even keep up with it. I tell the refs ‘I don’t need y’all because I don’t shoot free throws.’ So take it however you want it, I don’t really go into that. That’s our style of play, I do know that. We’re a physical team and a lot of guys are attackers so obviously we should, but I’m not that type of guy. I don’t do that.”

Russell scores most of his points off perimeter jumpers, so he isn’t one that gets too concerned when he’s not marching to the charity stripe. He is only averaging 2.0 free throws per game this season, which is his least since 2018-19.

However, he and the Lakers as a collective need to get to the line more to make up the disparity from the 3-point line as they’re not a high-volume outside shooting team.

L.A.’s at their best when James and Davis are getting downhill and either getting fouled or kicking the basketball out to shooters like Russell. The team will surely need to find ways to win games even without the benefit of the whistle, but it doesn’t take away the frustration of how the game against Phoenix was officiated.

LeBron James, Anthony Davis and D’Angelo Russell set new Lakers record for trip scoring 20-plus points

Although the Lakers lost a critical game against the Suns, James, Davis and Russell set a new franchise record. The trio dropped 20-plus points each for the fifth game in a row, breaking the previous record of four.

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