The Los Angeles Lakers had a tough, late loss to the Portland Trail Blazers, and head coach Luke Walton made it clear he wasn’t happy with the way the game was called, especially down the stretch.
“It’s frustrating. We’re trying to teach this young team how to play and what to do, and do it properly,” Walton said. “And it just feels like every night it’s a different excuse on why we’re not getting calls, what the definition of verticality is.”
The Lakers had a lead late in the game, when Kyle Kuzma shot a 3-pointer that the officials ruled was blocked cleanly by Blazers big man Zach Collins. On replay, however, Collins appeared to get a lot of Kuzma’s arm on his follow through, something Walton took particular issue with.
“Kuzma shot a three late in the game, and I’m sitting there watching and his whole shooting arm gets hit and he can’t even follow through,” Walton explained. “We’re up one, that’s three free throws, maybe we win that way. So again, we could’ve won the game.”
The Lakers are whistled for the fourth-most fouls of any team in the NBA, so it’s not completely out of character to see the referees call them for violations of the rules.
However, it’s also understandable for Walton to be upset enough to earn himself a likely fine when he’s trying not just to win games, but also help his young team learn how to play, something inconsistent calls would make more difficult.
So while the referees may have played a part in the Lakers’ defeat, Walton also didn’t want to say his team was blameless in another losing result.
“It’s not [the referee’s] fault, because we definitely did our part and didn’t do enough to take it out of their hands,” he said. “But it’s frustrating because that’s another game that’s in the loss column that we definitely could’ve won.”
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