As the new-look Los Angeles Lakers were working to develop new chemistry during the preseason, they faced challenge of NBA officiating calling games more tightly. On any given night the Lakers had multiple players in foul trouble, throwing off head coach Luke Walton’s rotations.
That carried into the regular season, which led to Walton criticizing officiating and Josh Hart and LeBron James being among those to voice their frustration over tightly-called games. Strangely, James struggled to get whistles in his favor.
While players have adjusted in some sense, officiating has remained inconsistent and frustrated players across the league. For someone like Hart, playing with a certain level of physicality is key to his game.
He struggled with that Friday night, ultimately fouling out with 5:56 remaining in the fourth quarter of what was a loss to the Utah Jazz. Following the game, Hart again shared his frustration over being hampered by foul trouble, via Spectrum SportsNet:
“It’s definitely difficult. I’m a physical player, I like to set a tone physically. When you have foul trouble you can’t do that. You’ve got to play conservative, you can’t get into a ballhandler, you have to give him space. It’s frustrating at times, because you can’t play how you want to play. You can’t help set a tone for your team as much as you want to.”
Like Lonzo Ball, Hart was saddled by three fouls in the first half. He collected two more in the third quarter, one of which was a Flagrant foul 1 for elbowing Rudy Gobert in the chest.
Compounding matters for Hart and the Lakers was a lack of calls in their favor. Though, the free throw disparity wasn’t exactly egregious, as the Jazz held a 32-24 edge in attempts.
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