If someone looked at the box score of Wednesday’s night game between the Los Angeles Lakers and Sacramento Kings, they’d probably come to the conclusion that the Lakers simply didn’t have enough talent available to upset the Kings on the road, and to an extent they’d be correct.
Not only were the Lakers missing three starters in LeBron James, Anthony Davis and Marc Gasol, but they were also missing a key reserve in Alex Caruso. The Kings went into the game with a handful of names on their injury report as well, but they had all of their regular starters available.
Still, there was one other major factor in the Lakers’ loss to the Kings on Wednesday night, though, and that was the officiating. Now I know what you’re probably thinking: are Lakers fans really in any position to be complaining about officiating in a game in Sacramento against the Kings after what allegedly happened in 2002? I get it — the irony isn’t lost on me. But the fact remains that the officials missed a call that directly affected the outcome of Wednesday’s game, as meaningless as the actual result may have been for both teams.
In the second quarter, Buddy Hield made a shot that was counted as a 3-pointer, however, when you watch the replay back, Hield’s foot was clearly on the line. Was it only one point? Sure, but one point makes a big difference in game as tight as Wednesday’s was.
So why wasn’t it reviewed? Frank Vogel told reporters the explanation he was given after the game.
“We told the officials about it,” Vogel said. “They said they turned it into (the NBA replay center) and they gave us some excuse that too much time had passed — that they can’t reverse it at that point. When you’ve got a one-point game down the stretch, that’s very disappointing that they weren’t able to look at that, but that’s what they told us during the game.”
If that was the case, then why wasn’t the shot reviewed at the next stoppage of play? Aren’t 3-point shots supposed to be automatically reviewed anyway? But I digress.
And while Hield’s shot might have been the most controversial call of the game, it wasn’t the only one.
In the same quarter, Montrezl Harrell got a technical foul for yelling “And-1” after making a basket, which led to the Kings getting a free throw. Again: only one point, but the game was decided by three.
Harrell sounded off on the officials after the game, saying the technical he got is just the most recent example of what he called “soft” officiating.
“When you’re playing basketball and you’re competing, and you’re getting after it, I think some of the referees — and this is not bashing any referee in general — but we cannot be in the instance of calling the game that soft,” Harrell said. “You know, whether me and you, or me and another ref got into it in a verbal conversation the play before, just because you’re still holding on to a grudge from that, you cannot come back and give me a tech. The tech that I got, it definitely was a big momentum swing and definitely shouldn’t have been called.
“I’m not looking at her (during the play), I’m was not near her vicinity, I’m running back on defense, and what I said was ‘And-1.’ No cursing, no profanity, none of that. And she turned around and gave me a tech because she was in her feelings. Because she felt like I was too loud with her or I belittled her when I was talking,” Harrell continued. “You can’t bring that into the game. I don’t care who it is, I don’t care what the situation is, man. Like everybody on the bench, everybody in the arena, even the guy sitting at the scorer’s table said you can’t do that. You can’t give a guy a tech for saying ‘And-1.’
“If I’m going to get a tech for saying And-1, man, then they might as well just tech me up all year, man, because I’ve said way worse than that and haven’t been given a tech. So it is what it is, man. I can’t control that. I’m gonna keep playing with the same passion and pride that I do. I didn’t stop talking the rest of the game, I kept playing with the same fire and same motor that I have all game. So it just is what it is.”
Harrell will almost certainly get fined for his comments about the officials some time this week. Vogel, on the other hand, decided to save himself a few dollars when he was asked about how the game was called.
“I don’t worry about the officiating,” Vogel said. “That’s out of our control.”
Fortunately for the Lakers, they’ll get a little break from the officials over the next eight days, and who knows? — maybe the referees will benefit from some time off too.