The Lakers’ 125-121 loss to the Boston Celtics on Saturday night was the third time they’ve been screwed on a wrong call late this season, and the second that LeBron James has come away without a whistle that should have been blown on a potential game-winner.
Earlier this month, the NBA admitted that Kendrick Nunn should have gone to the line for game-tying free throws in a loss to the Sacramento Kings, just days after a previous Last Two Minute Report acknowledged that James should have gone to the line for potentially game-winning free throws in the first overtime of an eventual loss to the Dallas Mavericks.
And according to multiple media reports, the league has already admitted that James should have gotten the same opportunity tonight after Jayson Tatum very obviously slapped his wrist on a potential game-winning layup right in front of a referee as time expired:
Sources say the Lakers have already heard from league officials that the end of regulation play was incorrect and that a foul should've been called sending LeBron James to the FT line. Expect the L2M to say the same— Dan Woike (@DanWoikeSports) January 29, 2023
The NBA has already determined in its postgame review that the officials got the call wrong on the Lakers’ last possession of the 4th Q and a Jayson Tatum should have been called for a shooting foul on LeBron James, league sources told ESPN.— Dave McMenamin (@mcten) January 29, 2023
I mean... yeah:
Not complaining about Darvin Ham or Russell Westbrook when this happened at the end of regulation. pic.twitter.com/CCgFqTGOKm— Colb (@___Colb___) January 29, 2023
The referees themselves even admitted the error immediately after the game:
Official Eric Lewis says in the pool report that the crew missed Jayson Tatum's foul on LeBron James: pic.twitter.com/1RGR6jTozk— Kyle Goon (@kylegoon) January 29, 2023
Those summaries above don’t even include the time when the league doubled down, claiming Russell Westbrook wasn’t fouled on a game-winning attempt that saw Joel Embiid fully hold onto his wrist.
And to some degree: Who cares? These apologies and acknowledgments don’t help the Lakers. The NBA can say “our bad” as many times as it wants, but it won’t change that the Lakers now have three of their 27 losses due to similar missed calls in crunch time.
Understandably, the team is pissed off about it, with Anthony Davis the most vocal of anyone:
Anthony Davis said the Lakers felt “cheated” by the officials and suggested the league should fine referees for missed calls to improve accountability— Dave McMenamin (@mcten) January 29, 2023
Anthony Davis on the final possession: “It’s bullshit. It’s unacceptable. … We got cheated tonight.” pic.twitter.com/etu283iMAu— Jovan Buha (@jovanbuha) January 29, 2023
Davis wasn’t the only member of the Lakers to speak out, however. LeBron himself was a bit more muted postgame, but no clearly less seething internally based on both his words and his reactions on the floor:
LeBron James was frustrated at the officiating tonight, something he says that has been building up with the games the Lakers believe have been partly decided by bad calls and no-calls that have gone against them: pic.twitter.com/JoAYPj11tR— Kyle Goon (@kylegoon) January 29, 2023
Darvin Ham told reporters that it’s “amazing” that “the best player on earth can’t get a call” in his own postgame remarks to the assembled press:
"It's unfortunate that the game ends on a play like that...You don't ask for favoritism you just ask for consistency." Darvin Ham's perspective on the end of the game and more. pic.twitter.com/y1nIlrnsUY— Spectrum SportsNet (@SpectrumSN) January 29, 2023
Dennis Schröder sounded off on Instagram:
Dennis Schroder posted this on his IG story after tonight’s loss vs Boston pic.twitter.com/DyjgumypaB— Lakers All Day Everyday (@LADEig) January 29, 2023
Even Big Game James Worthy was going off on the referees on the local postgame show:
"It's pathetic... that particular play right there determined the outcome of the game" -James Worthy on @SpectrumSN— Silver Screen and Roll (@LakersSBN) January 29, 2023
James Worthy on LeBron: "When you're battling 5 on 8, it takes time to conjure up that momentum again (in OT). ... That was not a hard thing to do (call the foul). It almost seemed like their (refs) egos were in this game. They need to check that. They SUCKED tonight."— Lakers Daily (@LakersDailyCom) January 29, 2023
The NBA is going to admit again that it got this one wrong tomorrow, but that will be cold comfort for the Lakers, who will once again have to try and put a victory that was stolen away from them behind them as they continue their east coast road trip against the Brooklyn Nets on Monday.