The Los Angeles Lakers defeated the Denver Nuggets 114-108 in Game 4 of the Western Conference Finals after addressing issues that cost them a win in the previous meeting.
L.A. shot better, took control of the glass, and avoided turnovers on Thursday night in a much improved overall showing. But also they went to the free throw line much more often, taking a total of 35 attempts at the charity stripe as compared to 22 in Game 3.
The Lakers converted 28 (80%) which allowed them to stay ahead even when Denver got within one possession multiple times in the second half. Meanwhile, the Nuggets took just 23 free throws, shooting 87% from the line.
When asked about Denver’s inability to regain the lead and win the game, head coach Mike Malone pointed out to breakdowns in his team’s defense that led to 25 second-chance points for the Lakers.
But he also showed frustration with the officials and suggested Denver would contact the league regarding the lack of fouls — just as the Lakers did prior to Game 4. “They went to the foul line 35 times,” Malone noted.
“I think I’m going to have to go through the proper channels like they did to see if we can figure out how we can get some more free throws.”
The Lakers reached out to the NBA to dispute the number of fouls LeBron James had been receiving in the series as he took a combined 10 shots from the charity line over the first three games.
And when asked whether L.A.’s intervention had any impact on Game 4, Malone said, “I just know they went 35 and we went 23. I think late in the game Jamal Murray attacked the basket a few times where it appeared to be contact.
“We’ll watch the film and send our clips in. We’ll reach out to the NBA and kind of make our points noted. Whether them going through the proper channels affected tonight or not, I have no idea.”
Nuggets star Jamal Murray previously accused the Lakers of manipulating the referees and said Denver needed to “earn the respect” of the officials as the younger team in the series.
And he reiterated his claims following Game 4. “I did get fouled on a few. We could see the replay clearly,” Murray said. “They’re going to do their part, going to try to do their job to the best of their ability.
“My team shows respect any time you talk to them. LeBron is going to go get his. But we just have to look ahead and play through it.”
It is worth noting Denver’s intentional fouls late in the fourth quarter drove the number of free throw attempts for the Lakers. Furthermore, both teams are now tied with 113 attempts each from the foul line through the first four games of the series.
Shaquille O’Neal Responds to Murray’s ‘Respect’ Comment
After Murray made his remarks about officiating following the Game 1 loss, Lakers legend Shaquille O’Neal offered the Nuggets star advice on how to earn the respect in the NBA.
O’Neal lauded Denver and Murray for their resilience this postseason but said that the ultimate way of reaching the same level of treatment as other NBA stars is to win the championship.
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