There are myriad reasons the Los Angeles Lakers suffered an inexplicable loss to the Phoenix Suns, namely a lack of urgency and porous defense. But as they attempted to mount a comeback in the fourth quarter, a call that went in favor of the Suns arguably swung the outcome.
With Josh Hart having switched onto DeAndre Ayton, the Suns cleared out for the young center to operate. The decision was somewhat surprising considering Hart has already developed a reputation for being a stalwart defender when matched up on players bigger than him.
He denied Ayton’s initial and counter moves, then appeared to get hooked by his left elbow. However, Hart was whistled for a foul. “I saw me play great defense. Textbook defense,” Hart said of the play.
“He had the ball, tried to do a half-spin, I chested him. He turned around, I chested him. Shuffled his feet, he hooked me with an elbow. I’m not a contortionist. I can’t move my body in ways I can’t. He did that, got around me, and they called a foul on me.”
— Josh Hart (@joshhart) March 3, 2019
Ayton converted his two free throws, which extended the Suns’ lead to five points with 52.9 seconds remaining. LeBron James went on the attack and drew a foul but missed his two free throws.
Lakers head coach Luke Walton was in as much disbelief as Hart, and also avoided directly criticizing the officiating. “Under a minute to go in a one-possession game, where he traveled twice and then offensive fouled? That play?” Walton sarcastically responded when asked about the play.
“I didn’t see Josh foul him. Maybe I’ll get a better look at it from a different angle somewhere.”
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