LOS ANGELES — From LeBron James gesticulating wildly after no-calls in the first half, to Frank Vogel getting a technical foul to start the fourth quarter, it was clear the Lakers weren’t happy about the whistle they were getting in their 106-99 win against the Detroit Pistons. It was something Vogel was extremely careful in his wording about while confirming that’s why he was upset after the game, but also something he clearly wanted to address.
“What can I say, what can I say? It was related to my tech, it was the reason for my tech, and it’s two ways. I felt like...” Vogel said, trailing off as he searched for the right words to admit his displeasure while saving his wallet from getting lighter.
“Well, let’s just say I wanted my guys to stop fouling, and I wanted to draw attention to what I wanted to draw attention to. I’ll leave it at that and keep my money.”
The Lakers shot just five free throws to the Pistons’ 15 in the first half, before ultimately finishing the game with a 35-23 disparity. James himself drew just two free throws in the game, both of which came in the second half.
Now, some of that was the Pistons just being more aggressive in a game they also went to the paint enough to get blocked 20 times, an astounding amount for an NBA team.
49 misses. 20 of them were blocks.— Duncan Smith (@DuncanSmithNBA) January 6, 2020
And while Vogel obviously doesn’t want his team to get blocked more, he did say he’s talked to them about making sure they do the things that earn them free throws.
“When the ball moves, it’s not just about jumping in and trying to initiate contact. The more the ball moves offensively, you get the defense in rotations and they have no choice to foul you at the rim. That’s the right way to get to the free-throw line,” Vogel said.
“We also talked about things fundamentally, like jumping into guys when you get them off their feet at the 3-point line, which we don’t do well enough. We don’t use shot fakes in general well enough,” Vogel continued. “(We need to play) smarter when we have the bonus. There’s too many times where we get into the bonus and we settle instead of going to the basket when any contact is free throws.”
Alex Caruso agrees.
“Just be more aggressive, I guess?” Caruso said when asked how the Lakers can get to the line more. “The answer isn’t to shy away from it or to complain, even though we do that a little bit. It’s just to be more aggressive.
“I don’t think there is a key to it, it’s just us going out there and getting it done.”
But a lack of free throws has been a problem for the Lakers all season, not just one that reared its head against the Pistons. And it is kind of wild to check and see that a team with two stars as physical at the rim as James and Anthony Davis only ranks 14th in the NBA in free-throw attempts with 23.3 per game. It’s something Vogel says the Lakers have tried to bring to the attention of the league in the proper ways.
”I’m gonna choose my words wisely here. We’ve been in communication with the league through the right channels about feeling we could get to the line more. We’ll just leave it at that,” Vogel said before alluding to the ways he’s also told his team they can ensure they draw more free throws.
“There are things we can do on our end that we’re working on to hopefully get there more, but we’re also trying to draw attention to it by going through the right channels with the league.”
Channels that Vogel hopes will result in the Lakers’ free throws going up, while his bank account balance stays the same.
All quotes obtained firsthand unless otherwise noted. For more Lakers talk, subscribe to the Silver Screen and Roll podcast feed on iTunes, Spotify, Stitcher or Google Podcasts. You can follow Harrison on Twitter at @hmfaigen.