It was another nerve-wracking final stretch, but the Los Angeles Lakers managed to escape with their second victory over the Houston Rockets.
Unlike their first matchup, the Lakers actually faced some adversity for most of the night and even trailed by double digits in the second half at one point. LeBron James was able to will the team in the fourth quarter, but L.A. was a Kevin Porter Jr. three away from inexplicably losing.
The game was closer in the closing minutes thanks to a puzzling call from the referees where they took away two made free throws from Kent Bazemore and the Lakers. Bazemore originally made two free throws, but minutes later, they went back and reviewed and took the two points away as it was only the Rockets’ fourth team foul instead of five and the Lakers shouldn’t have been in the bonus.
If the foul was called on the floor and the Bazemore didn’t shoot free throws, then the Lakers still would’ve retained possession though, so they effectively lost a possession in a close game late, which didn’t cost them but could’ve.
Head coach Frank Vogel was incensed with the ruling and dove into detail afterwards.
“That’s definitely something the league has got to look at,” he said. “I understand the mindset to get it right, but it was their fourth foul and they gave us free throws. You’re only supposed to get free throws on the fifth foul, so we shoot the free throws and play resumes, and a couple possessions later they made a mistake, so they just take the points off the board. OK, which is to me, like, once play resumes, you can’t correct that. You can’t correct it.
“The league’s gotta look at that because they can’t just give us that possession back. Like if it was corrected at the time of the call, we get the ball on the side and it’s our ball…Once that goes away, you just take the points away and don’t give us the possession back, you can’t correct that at that point. So I’m very frustrated by that, the league has to look at that.”
Vogel noted he and the team lobbied the officials to reverse the call but did not get their way. ”
We just tried to make the argument ‘you have to give us that possession back if you’re going to take the points off, because play already resumed.’ Like, we’d play a different way, but then they announced it to the crowd and it is what it is…Thankfully it didn’t change the outcome of the game, even though it was very close to.”
The call was confusing in real-time and the explanation from the officials does not make much sense, so hopefully the NBA takes a hard look at this situation and corrects it moving forward.
Anthony Davis on free throw debacle
Vogel was not the only person confused by the call as Anthony Davis recounted the moment himself.
“The scoreboard said four team fouls, which means it was the fifth, and so Baze shot two free throws. And when they went back to look at it, it was only the fourth team foul. They put it up there right away, so it was really four, and so they took the two points away, but what me, Bron, and coach were explaining to the refs was that ‘well, we lost a possession.’
“We didn’t take the ball out or anything. We shot free throws, they take the points away, and now we just lose the entire possession, which could have cost us the game. They just said there is nothing they can do about it and stuff like that. So it’s a good thing it didn’t hurt us, but yeah, that was a funky situation.”
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