James led the way with 30 points and while he is happy to have earned their seventh straight win, he was upset with the officiating throughout the course of the game.
James finished the game having gone to the line a total of zero times. While that would be odd in any given game, it was especially strange in Memphis as James attempted 16 of his 27 shots in the paint.
For James, he feels it was clear he was being fouled and they should have been called as such, according to Dave McMenamin of ESPN:
“I’m living in the paint and if you look at my arm right here, these are four or five [scratches] that happened the last two games, and they weren’t called at all,” said James, who ended with a game-high 30 points on 14-for-27 shooting.
James also feels that getting to the free throw line sets a better pace for the defense while slowing the game down:
“But that can’t stop me,” James said of the no-calls. “It didn’t stop me tonight. No matter what I got to continue to go, but being able to get to the free throw line is something that allows our defense to get in good position. It sets our defense. It slows the game down at times. It gives us a good rhythm. It relaxes me as well. So I know I’m getting hit, but at the end of the day, I just got to keep going.”
Although James did not see the charity stripe, the Lakers as a team got to the line often. Their 29 free throw attempts are tied for the team’s second-most during the 2019-20 NBA season. Alternatively, the Grizzlies only got to the line 13 times.
Despite the setback, James still helped lead the team to victory, largely through his defense. The team’s defensive effort resulted in 12 steals, their second-most for a single game this season.
The Lakers defense has been superb, allowing the fourth-fewest points per game while leading the league in blocks per game.
Despite James hoping to slow the game down with free throws, the team’s 21.4 is good for the sixth-fewest in the league. It is clear that James will do anything and everything he can to secure wins this season — free throws or not.