In addition to being outplayed overall by the Phoenix Suns on Friday night, the Los Angeles Lakers were undoubtedly on the wrong side of some questionable calls by the officials. At numerous points throughout the contest, LeBron James, Russell Westbrook and many other Lakers made their frustrations with the referees clear.
As the game went on and the deficit got more out of hand for the Lakers, the team as a whole continued to be affected by the calls and non-calls that failed to go their way. Some picked up technical fouls while others argued with the refs while failing to get up the court.
Whether they were justified in their frustration or not, James made it clear that the Lakers have to be able to keep their emotions in check when it comes to the officials.
“We got to do a better job of not allowing calls that we thought should’ve went our way stop us from what our goal is out on the floor,” James said. “There were some very, very difficult calls that we felt should’ve went our way but we allowed that to combat three, four, five possessions in a row and we started to lose control of the game because we were kind of too worried about what they were calling or whatnot.
“So I think that side and the emotional side kind of got to us tonight and that’s what happens when you’re trying to get over the hump, you’re trying to play perfect basketball or as close to perfect as possible and one call here or one mistake here seems like it’s the end of the world when it shouldn’t be. We’ll get better with it. We have no choise but to get better with it.”
While the Lakers were only called for four more fouls than the Suns as a whole, there seemed to be a massive gap during the first three quarters as things got out of hand. But more important than the officials was that Phoenix outplayed the Lakers in a big way. The Lakers shot below 40% from the field as a team while committing 16 turnovers to just 11 by the Suns.
James also understands that the frustrations stretch beyond what the referees are doing and are just as much about the team’s shortcomings overall.
“Obviously the name of the game is to win ball games, but there is a process along with building something to become the team that you want to become. I know it firsthand. I know the shortcomings that happen when you are trying to build something special. It doesn’t happen overnight. As much as you want it, you’re going to get frustrated because you know what you are capable of, you know what the team can be capable of. It just takes time. You’ll know when that time is, and right now we have to continue to push. Continue to push, continue to stay positive, continue to work our [expletive] off. Continue to play good basketball for one another.”
Things couldn’t have gotten off to a worse start for the Lakers as the team has been beaten soundly in their first two games despite their championship aspirations. When things are going downhill it becomes easy for them to quickly spiral out of control as the anger and frustration continue to grow.
But LeBron realizes that it is on the players themselves to keep their emotions in check and focus on themselves and the things they need to change, as opposed to focusing on the officials and allowing their issues to get worse than they already are.
James motivated most by championships in 19th season
One of the main reasons there are already frustrations within the Lakers is because there were such high expectations coming into the season. This team is focused on winning a championship and that is the main motivation for James as well in his 19th season.
“Just motivated to have an opportunity to win a championship,” James said. “That’s why I play the game. It’s one of the greatest shortest feelings that you have. You win a championship and everything that you put into that year just hits you all at once and literally like a couple hours later it’s like it’s over. You just see a whole time you’re just trying to figure out how can you get that moment again. Seriously! That’s part of my motivation still. Just always trying to get that feeling.
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