With Brandon Ingram and Rajon Rondo suspended for four and three games, respectively, LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers fell short to the San Antonio Spurs in overtime.
Want to get your content COMPLETELY AD FREE? Follow us on Apple News!
Throughout the 2018-19 NBA preseason and regular season, there have been questionable calls from referees as the league worked to enforce new rules. While the Lakers have averaged 71.3 points in the paint (second overall) through the first three games, the thought process is that aggressiveness should also lead to more free throws.
However, in the loss to the Spurs, they attempted 12 fewer free throws. Lakers head coach Luke Walton, who received a technical foul after a LeBron James no-call, expressed his frustration with the lack of foul calls for his team.
“I wasn’t going to say anything because I was going to save my money, but I just can’t anymore,” Walton began. “Seventy-something points in the paint to 50-something. Again, [the opponent] out-shoots us from the free throw line. Thirty-eight free throws.
“Watch the play where I got a technical foul on. Watch what happened to LeBron James’ arm. It’s the same thing that James Harden and Chris Paul shot 30 free throws on us the night before. Then LeBron pulls up on a screen, somebody trying to fight over. Same, same thing they shot free throws on. Same thing. We are scoring 70 points a night in the paint. We’re putting pressure on them. Watch how Josh Hart plays this game. He played 40 minutes tonight. All he does is attack the rim; zero free throws. Zero.
“I know they’re young, I get that. But if we’re going to play a certain way, let’s not reward people for flopping 30 feet from the hole on plays that have nothing to do with that possession. They’re just flopping to see if they could get a foul called. And then not reward players that are physically going to the basket and getting hit. It’s not right.”
While the Lakers are 0-3 to begin the season, Walton liked the team’s overall effort under the circumstances. “I thought our guys fought, they competed tonight, they never gave up,” he said.
“Rebounding got better, we covered the free-throw thing already. Some of that is still our fault. We are fouling but we’re going to continue to get better on that. Overall, very pleased with our guys tonight.”
For Walton, he is a player’s coach and will continue to defend his team. While the third-year coach will likely be fined for his comments, it is important to set a tone with referees and the physicality the Lakers want to play with and benefit from (on offense).
With eight new members and two rotation players suspended, it is going to take some time for the Lakers to build chemistry. This was the expectation prior to the season and nothing has changed, but they have been extremely competitive against the Portland Trail Blazers, Houston Rockets and Spurs.