The Los Angeles Lakers fought until the very end in their 143-142 overtime loss to the San Antonio Spurs on Monday and head coach Luke Walton was openly appreciative of his team’s effort. He was less impressed with the officiating.
In his postgame presser following the tight game, Walton did not hold back when expressing his grievances against the officials on Monday night, saying the Lakers weren’t getting calls that their opponents have been getting all week.
“Dave asked me about this pregame and I wasn’t going to say anything. I was going to save my money, but I just can’t anymore,” Walton said. “It’s 70-something points in the paint to 50-something, again they outshoot us from the free-throw line. 38 free throws. Watch the play, watch the play where I got a technical foul. Watch what happened to LeBron James’ arm. It’s the same thing that James Harden and Chris Paul shot 30 free throws on us for the night before. Then LeBron pulls up on a screen and someone tried to fight over, the same thing they shot free throws on us for. We are scoring 70 points a night in the paint.”
It wasn’t just LeBron that Walton thinks isn’t getting calls, either.
“Josh Hart. Watch how Josh Hart plays this game,” Walton said. “He played 40 minutes tonight, all he does is attack the rim, zero free throws tonight. Zero. I know they’re young, I get that, but if we’re going to play a certain way let’s not reward people for flopping 30 feet from the hole on plays that have nothing to do with that possession. They’re just flopping to see if they get a foul call. And then not reward players that are physically going to the basket and getting hit.”
Walton will almost certainly get slapped with a hefty fine from the NBA for criticizing the referees, but he at least made his rant long enough for it to be worth it. If he is fined, this will be Walton’s second time being dinged for bumping heads with the officials since he took over a head coach of the Lakers. Walton was fined $15,000 in 2016 for “verbally abusing an official” during a game against the Sacramento Kings.
Walton has every right to feel slighted by the officials, but the Lakers couldn’t make the most of their opportunities even when they got calls to go their way. The team missed eight of their 26 free throw attempts, including two missed free throws by James with the game on the line.
The Lakers are now 0-3 on the season. They’ll travel to Phoenix on Wednesday to take on Devin Booker and the Suns. Hopefully the refs remember to pack their whistles for that game.
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