An underlying aspect to the Los Angeles Lakers having their four-game winning streak snapped and losing the season series to the San Antonio Spurs on Friday night was what appeared to be inconsistent officiating.
That swung in favor of the Spurs, who shot 33 free throws to the Lakers’ 21. The disparity is hardly egregious but it was enough to rankle LeBron James, who shot nine free throws.
His frustration with officiating grew as the game wore on and fouls either went against him or uncalled. There was one sequence where James’ complaints may have influenced a whistle in his favor on the next trip down.
When asked if he was surprised by the teams’ free throw totals, James shrugged his shoulders and shook his head, seemingly wanting to avoid a possible fine. He also offered a short response when asked what might need to change in order to get a charge/block call his way, via Spectrum SportsNet:
“I have no idea. I have no idea.”
James is averaging 7.8 free throws per game, which ranks seventh in the NBA and is his most since the 2011-12 season when he was with the Miami Heat.
And though some calls or non-calls may have given the 16-year veteran perfect reason to be upset, fact of the matter is the Lakers didn’t aid their efforts by allowing the Spurs to score 44 points in the fourth quarter.
Compounding matters was San Antonio chipped away at their deficit with a bench unit, which set the stage for DeMar DeRozan to torment the Lakers and close the game out. DeRozan made 14 of his 18 free throws en route to scoring a game-high 36 points.
Friday was not the first time the Lakers locker room was filled with frustration over officiating. Head coach Luke Walton was critical of referees after a loss to the Spurs and it resulted in a $15,000 fine.