boston – LeBron James He sat in front of the locker room, his knees wrapped in ice, staring blankly ahead, searching for an answer to a problem that had plagued him for weeks, if not the entire season.
“I don’t understand,” James repeated to himself Los Angeles Lakers 125-121 overtime loss to Boston Celtics Saturday at TD Garden.
For several weeks, frustration with the way James has been leading this season has been building. In the seconds after the rule is completed Celticserupted on one of the game’s biggest regular-season stages: a premium matchup between the league’s fiercest rivals.
With four seconds left and the game tied at 105, James drove past Malcolm Brogon And it easily went into the rim. As James extended his left hand to strike, Jason Tatum He swung around and slid down, hitting James’ arm as time expired, causing him to miss his point blank attempt.
To James’ disbelief, there was no whistle.
Overtime at TD Garden.
LeBron James’ layup doesn’t go away and the Lakers and Celtics play five more minutes.
James was upset that a foul wasn’t called.
— The Athletic (@The Athletic) January 29, 2023
He immediately turned around, noticing with his left hand to highlight where the contact had occurred. James then turned away in a fit of emotion that was no longer visible. As his frustration set him free, he rolled onto the floor, struggling to control his anger.
“you see My response” James said rightly when asked about his reaction to the call.
That one hurt BIG TIME!!! don’t understand
— LeBron James (@KingJames) January 29, 2023
Patrick BeverleyHe prided himself on having the back of his teammates and took the nearby camera from the starting photographer and showed the picture to the referee, getting a technical foul before the start of overtime and igniting a chain of memes.
Crews general manager Eric Lewis, who gave the pool report after the game, said the officiating team missed contact from Tatum on James’ layup attempt.
“It was a connection,” Lewis said. “We didn’t see any offense in the game at the time. The crew missed the game.
Anthony DavisHe spoke to the media in front of the key, a few feet away from James, who blocked the call and voiced the entire meeting.
“(Tatum) destroyed it,” Davis said. “He blew it. Obviously. Obviously. It’s bulls–. . . It’s unacceptable. And I guarantee nothing will happen to the references. Honestly, we cheated tonight. It’s a clear offense. . . . To be honest, it’s unacceptable. The references were bad. They were bad tonight.”
The locker room scene was postgame tension and stress. Players were quickly released. Each of the conversations included questioning and criticizing final possession and asking why referees could not be penalized more severely for missing calls that cost team play.
Beverly and Russell Westbrook He declined to speak to the media after the game.
Even Lakers Measured by coach Darwin Hamm’s analysis of the referee, he was visibly upset.
“The more you try not to put it on the hall, the harder it gets,” Hamm said.
The Lakers have had a lot of recent losses that have gone against them, including going against critical snap calls. Dallas, Philadelphia And Sacramento.
James succeeded in a double overtime loss to the Mavericks. Christian wood On the same play at the end of the first overtime, however, the foul was not called.
If those calls go correctly in the Lakers’ favor and the final possession against the Celtics, the 23-27 Lakers, who are 13th in the West, could be 27-23 and fourth in the conference.
“I watch basketball every day,” James said. “I watch games every day. And I don’t see it happen to anybody. It’s weird.”
The Celtics (39 free throw attempts) shot nearly twice as many free throws as the Lakers (20). James only attempted six free throws, half as many as Tatum (12) and Jaylen Brown (11)
“The best player in the world doesn’t get the call,” Hamm said. “It’s amazing.”
James, who finished with 41 points on 15-for-30 shooting, was almost content with the Lakers, saying he felt he wasn’t leading like other stars.
“It’s challenging,” James said. “I don’t get it. I’m attacking the paint, about as many double-digit free throws as any night in this league, and I don’t get it. I don’t get it.
Hamm speculated that the misunderstanding was caused by James’ playing style, a reference. Giannis Antetokounmpo And Shaquille O’Neal, like his players, was gifted with strength, power and physicality that were difficult to judge.
“He’s a guy who decides to play the right way … plays a tough, physical brand of basketball and, just because he doesn’t explode or fail or scream when he hits the ball, he gets penalized like I see a lot of other players do,” Hamm said. “… Those who play physically and really try to focus on finishing plays, sometimes it doesn’t work out for them. But then you see other people getting caught up in every shot or whatever they stumble on… and they’re the ones getting the whistle.
And the whole year in front of the court they said “I didn’t see” or “it wasn’t bad”. It seriously doesn’t make sense to me! Annoying as hell! Anyway, keep going Squad! 💜💛👑
— LeBron James (@KingJames) January 16, 2023
James admits that the visual reaction is due to the emotions of the moment – and the frustration from the calls leads directly to losses.
“Nah, it’s building,” James said. “It’s been building, because you’ve seen some of the games we’ve lost this year with late calls. We literally had a chance to win the game. I had the second for myself in the last few weeks: against Dallas, I had a chance to win with a bad call. K-Nunn had a chance to tie the game the other day (against Sacramento) if a four-point play was called. don’t understand.”
The Lakers still had a chance to win in overtime, but the Celtics jumped out to a six-point lead in the first minute as the Lakers were still processing what had happened.
The emotional toll was ultimately too much for the team, at least in a hostile road environment against the league’s best team.
“You’re still thinking about that,” Davis said. “To be honest, you shouldn’t be in that situation. You don’t have to play overtime.”
The Lakers have already spoken with the league, but with the umpiring count underway, they’re not sure what the best course of action is going forward.
“I mean, we have different ways that you can … I think Monty McCutcheon, he’s certainly been very clear and there are different ways that we can express our concerns and give good feedback,” Hamm said. But after the fact, you can only hope that he becomes more consistent.
James says he’s not involved with the league.
“Ah, I won’t go into that,” said James. “Our company decided they wanted to do that, which is fine, but it won’t change—”
The Lakers are no strangers to heartbreaking losses. They have been one of the worst teams in the league this season, losing a dozen or so times in spectacular fashion. That’s what makes Saturday’s loss so hard to accept. They were. right over there. They led for most of the game – and badly needed this win.
Perhaps if the Lakers had a better record, their response to the blown call would have been milder. But this is the type of loss that could come back to haunt the Lakers in April as they play for the playoffs and play-in positioning.
Los Angeles was a bad call away from starting their five-game road trip with a statement win. They went toe to toe with the best team in the NBA For the second time this season.
But instead, they’re left to find an explanation for why so many calls have gone against them at crucial times, waiting to finally turn the corner and put themselves in the postseason picture.
“Like I told you, we have no room for error,” James said. “And it’s one of the best games we’ve played all year, and for it to fall on someone else — to fall on someone else’s judgment or not is ridiculous. It’s so funny.”
(Photo: Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)