LeBron James and Lakers They haven’t gotten the right whistle in a handful of games this season, and they got burned again in Saturday night’s 125-121 overtime loss. Celtics in Boston.
When the score was tied at 105, the Lakers took the lead with 4.1 seconds left to tie the game. LeBron curled around the top for his inbound pass and continued straight down, reaching the rim for a game-winning layup attempt. He didn’t even draw metal, and for obvious reasons. It was clearly messed up by Jayson Tatum, who worked on LeBron’s left arm as straight as day.
Here is a closer look.
You never mind a fake comment on Twitter. These games are not rigged. The phone just missed it, plain and simple. According to various reports, the league didn’t even wait until the next day’s customary final two-minute report to admit the call was missed.
You can understand LeBron’s frustration reaching boiling point. This isn’t the first time this has happened to him or his teammates this season. Heck, it’s not the first time it’s happened this month.
In fact, James was fired without a call on another game-winning layup attempt on Jan. 12 in a double-overtime loss at Dallas. The final two-minute report confirmed that Christian Wood had intercepted LeBron to tie the game in the final seconds of the first overtime.
So, yes, this is another tough blow for LeBron and his teammates, who don’t have the margin for error to absorb a lot of late steals. That said, in both examples cited, exporters should not have been in a position to be abused by the authorities in the first place.
After disappearing to Mavericks“Darwin Hamm admits it’s a kick [himself] Luca Doncini didn’t make three triples at the end of regulation against the Lakers, but instead went one-on-one and eventually hit the game-tying 3-pointer.
But that wasn’t Cam’s first or biggest mistake on the possession. The Lakers should have fouled Donchin before he could shoot to prevent him or anyone else from even trying to force a 3.
I’ve said it a hundred times, and I’ll say it again. You’re allowed to do bad things on purpose, actions that are supposed to hurt your chances of success in spirit, which is stupid when you’re out three late in a game. But until the league devises a way to faithfully enforce its own rules, there is no statistical proof that allowing opponents to attempt a game-tying 3-pointer is sending two shots to the free throw line.
Still, there are coaches like Hamm who have a hard time embracing basic math or are afraid of taking a shot — these are the experts, to do the smart thing. After watching Doncic torch the Lakers a few weeks ago, you’d think Hamm wouldn’t make the same mistake again.
But he did. The Lakers had a winding three-point lead with less than 10 seconds on the clock in the possession before James was robbed of a pair of game-winning free throws. LA double-teamed Malcolm Brogdon at the top of the key, starting with Troy Brown Jr. and Patrick Beverley, to try and save the Celtics from foul play.
Instead, they let Brown swing the ball to Tatum, who swung it to Al Horford, who hit a wide-open 3 in the corner. That’s what shooting guards try to prevent all game, and the Lakers willingly let the game hit the line when the Celtics have plenty of opportunities to go on offense instead.
Horford missed, but that’s not the point. That’s a sad coach, good luck…at least at first. See, another problem with letting teams attempt game-tying 3s is that they’re more likely to create offensive rebounds than free throws, and that’s exactly what happened.
Jaylen Brown sneaked in to catch Horford’s fouls and finished off the foul on Beverly. He made the free throw to tie the game, and then you know what happened.
To be clear, Beverly Brown made a dumb play by ruining it. You are three. Put the man down. Trying to contest that shot is a grave mistake. But things happen in chaotic situations. Wind down the clock. Tight game. Loose restoration. Emotions and feelings are in control. Again, that scenario should never have played out. Hamm needs to teach the Lakers to foul.
Those aren’t the only late-game mistakes Hamm has made this season. You can pretty much ask for his super-small closing lineups. On Saturday, he didn’t play Russell Westbrook the entire fourth quarter (smart), throwing him into the fire in overtime (not smart).
Westbrook made good plays and bad plays in overtime. Again, not the point. If he can’t be trusted to be on the floor in the fourth quarter, it’s a prayer that he randomly throws it into overtime, especially as part of a small three-guard lineup that can’t shoot as a whole.
A few weeks ago, Hamm let Westbrook win the final possession of the game. The Lakers trailed by 6 at a time, avoiding calling a timeout and LeBron at least touching the ball at such a crucial time.
After that loss, Hamm said he never thought about calling a timeout because he liked the Westbrook-Joel Embiid matchup.
“I take that position every day of the week and twice on Sunday,” Hamm said.
As I wrote at the time and will write again, that comment is nothing more than Hamm trying to get Westbrook’s back and possibly protect his own by rationalizing a bad decision. That possession was botched, and you can see it happening in slow motion up close.
Although Hamm liked the matchup early, once Westbrook got the ball going, there was no way he was going to succeed. Had Hamm called a timeout at that moment, with roughly seven seconds still on the clock, LeBron could have made a play to get the ball and give the Lakers a good look at the basket.
These are terrible decisions, and they are costing them important victories that cannot be lost by the senders. It happened again Saturday when the officials stole a game from the Lakers when Hamm had to end a possession early.