LeBron James and Lakers They haven’t received an accurate whistle in a handful of games this season, and it burned them again in a brutal 125-121 overtime loss on Saturday night. Celtics in Boston.
With the score tied at 105, the Lakers were out of bounds on the frontcourt side with 4.1 seconds to play in regulation. LeBron curled up for the inbound pass, continued straight downfield, and went to the rim for the game-winning layup attempt. He did not draw iron, for an obvious reason. He was clearly fouled by Jayson Todd, who hacked LeBron’s left forearm in clear daylight.
Here’s a closer look.
Ignore the fraudulent comment in the tweet. These games are not cheats. They missed the call, plain and simple. According to multiple reports, the league didn’t even wait for its regular next-day final two-minute report to admit they missed the call.
You can understand LeBron’s frustration reaching a boiling point. It’s not the first time this has happened to him or the Lakers this season. Heck, this isn’t even the first time this month has happened.
In fact, James was burned by a no-call on another potential game-winning layup attempt in a double-overtime loss to Dallas on January 12; The final two-minute report confirmed that Christian Wood had indeed hacked LeBron, with the score tied and the final seconds ticking down at the end of the first overtime.
So, yeah, this was another tough win for LeBron and the Lakers, who didn’t have the margin of error to pull off several late-game steals. In both examples mentioned, the Lakers should never have been in a position to be wronged by the officials.
After failure MavericksDarwin Hamm admitted to “kicking [himself] In the Butt” for not being double-teamed with Luka Doncic by the Lakers, allowing him to play up to three at the end of regulation.
But that wasn’t Hamm’s first or biggest mistake on that possession. The Lakers should have fouled Donczyk before the shot to keep him or anyone else from even attempting a game-tying 3.
I’ve said it a hundred times and I’ll say it again. Being allowed to make deliberate mistakes, when you’re up three o’clock late in a game, is seen as detrimental to your chances of winning, which is stupid. But until the league finds a way to enforce its own rules with integrity, there is no statistical justification for allowing an opponent to attempt a game-tying 3-pointer over sending two shots to the free-throw line.
Yet there are still coaches like Hamm who are too stubborn to accept the basic math or too afraid of malpractice in firings — these are professionals, they can figure it out — to do the smart thing. After watching Doncic torch the Lakers with a game-tying 3 a few weeks ago, you’d think Hamm wouldn’t make the same mistake again.
But he did. The Lakers had a three-point lead with less than 10 seconds on the clock before James was robbed of the game-winning free throws. LA had many opportunities
Instead, they let Brown swing the ball to Tatum, who swung it to Al Horford, who had a wide-open 3 in the corner. That’s what shot defenses try to guard against all game, and instead, the Lakers willingly allowed the Celtics to shoot with the game on the line when they had multiple opportunities to foul.
Horford missed, but that didn’t matter. Training bailed out by good luck is pretty bad…at least in the beginning. See, the other problem with letting teams attempt game-tying 3s is that they’re more likely to produce an offensive rebound than a free throw, and that’s exactly what happened.
Jaylen Brown dived to catch Horford’s miss, finish a layup… and foul Beverley. He made the free throw to tie the game and you know what happened from there.
To be clear, Beverley made a dumb play by fouling Brown. You are three years old. Let the boy put it. Trying to fight that shot was a catastrophic error. But things happen in chaotic situations. Clockwise winding. Tight game. Loose regeneration. Intuitions and emotions take over. Again, that scene should never have played out. Ham should instruct the Lakers to foul.
These aren’t the only late mistakes Hamm has made this season. You may very well question his super-small completion sequences. On Saturday, he didn’t play Russell Westbrook the entire fourth quarter (smart) and threw him into the fire in the middle of overtime (not smart).
Westbrook made some good plays in overtime and he made some bad plays. Again, not the point. If he’s not reliable enough to be on the floor in the fourth quarter, randomly pushing him into overtime is a prayer, especially as part of a small three-guard lineup that can’t shoot collectively.
Two weeks ago, Ham Westbrook put the Lakers behind by six on the game’s final possession, but rather than timeout, LeBron made sure to at least touch the ball in such a crucial moment.
Hamm said after that loss that he never considered calling a timeout because he liked the Westbrook vs. Joel Embiid matchup.
“I take that shot every day of the week and twice on Sundays,” Hamm said.
As I wrote at the time, and will write again, that comment is nothing more than Westbrook’s back Ham trying to protect his own by justifying a bad decision. That possession was a wreck, and you could see it happening in slow motion.
Although Hamm liked the matchup early, once Westbrook fumbled the ball, it wasn’t going to work. Had Hamm called a timeout at that point, with seven seconds left on the clock, LeBron could have engineered a play to get the ball and give the Lakers a better look at the basket.
These are terrible results, and they cost the Lakers important wins that they cannot afford to lose. On Saturday, Hamm should have ended a possession earlier when the officials stole a game from the Lakers.