Already without Lonzo Ball because of a left knee contusion and facing some limitations with Brandon Ingram due to a minutes restriction, the Los Angeles Lakers were further put behind the eight ball Friday night when Kentavious Caldwell-Pope was ejected before halftime.
Caldwell-Pope was upset over a non-call on his drive to the basket, which came after previous possessions where he felt a whistle was warranted. Caldwell-Pope picked up consecutive technical fouls and needed to be restrained by teammates from further engaging referee Ed Malloy.
Caldwell-Pope was seen in the Lakers locker room following their overtime loss to the Milwaukee Bucks. However, Lakers head coach Luke Walton took the officiating to task on behalf of his player.
“Always a lot to learn. I learned some new things myself tonight,” Walton began when asked about the Lakers’ furious comeback that ultimately came up short.”
“I was told that the reason that KCP, when he got hit across the face wasn’t a foul, was because it was unintentional. And if the player didn’t mean to hit the other guy in the face, then it’s not a foul. So that was good to learn.”
Walton’s remarks didn’t necessarily come across as angry but more so he was dumfounded by the explanation. It was one of two scenarios that left him a bit incredulous.
“I was also told that if the referee feels the offensive player is trying to dunk the ball, that the defensive player is allowed to hit the rim, and it’s not goaltending,” Walton said. “So that was good to learn that rule as well.”
Prior to Friday, Walton last was hypercritical of officiating following a December loss to the Portland Trail Blazers. Although his latest criticism was tempered, he could face a fine from the league.