To the surprise of literally nobody, the NBA admitted — in multiple ways — that they got it wrong on LeBron James’ game-winning layup attempt against the Celtics on Saturday.
The league’s Last Two Minute Report confirmed it was an incorrect non-call on the Lakers star, as Jayson Tatum should have been called for a foul.
The NBA's L2M further confirms that Jayson Tatum fouled LeBron James on the potential game-winning layup pic.twitter.com/5eqvsJx7Vx— Jacob Rude (@JacobRude) January 29, 2023
Don’t worry, though, guys. The refs will have sleepless nights thinking about the missed call.
Like everyone else, referees make mistakes. We made one at the end of last night’s game and that is gut-wrenching for us. This play will weigh heavily and cause sleepless nights as we strive to be the best referees we can be.https://t.co/WyN8QVuTOl— NBA Referees (@OfficialNBARefs) January 29, 2023
While the Last Two Minute Report lays it out clearly, the NBA’s verdict came in well before Sunday’s regular report as the league contacted the Lakers on Saturday night to inform them they screwed up.
Predictably, the Lakers were rightfully upset about the non-call that literally cost them the game. LeBron James was as animated as he’s ever been on the court at the end of regulation. Patrick Beverley picked up the greatest technical in basketball history. And Anthony Davis flat-out said the Lakers were cheated.
The anger on Saturday wasn’t just from the Celtics game, though, but a culmination of a number of critical, game-deciding calls going against the Lakers in the last month. For those that have lost track:
- The NBA admitted LeBron James should have had two free throws with 2.9 seconds left in overtime to win the game potentially. They also claimed Troy Brown Jr. being high-five during his shot was legal.
- The NBA decided Russell Westbrook having his arm grabbed by Joel Embiid and preventing him from lifting it for a shot was “marginal” contact on his potential game-winning jumper.
- The NBA admitted that Kendrick Nunn should have had a four-point play opportunity to tie the game against the Kings with 8.5 seconds left after being fouled by De’Aaron Fox.
There are plenty of arguments to make about the Lakers being better and not putting themselves into a position to have the refs determine the outcome of the game and they’d have weight to them. But the fact is, these are four games in which the officials made the wrong call and directly impacted the outcome of the game.
The players shouldn’t have to account for that when playing a game. There shouldn’t be a calculation of “Well we need to be even more ahead for when the officials screw up again.”
Four games are the difference between the Lakers being 23-27, as they currently are, or 27-23 and in the fourth seed in the Western Conference. In a playoff race with little margin for error, the Lakers are having multiple results taken out of their hands.
It’s understandable, then, for them to express a certain level of frustration on Saturday as it continues to happen over and over again. And the most frustrating part is that those responsible for the calls aren’t being punished. The officials continue to make these mistakes, the league continues to tell fans “Whoops, sorry!” and then nothing else changes.
Lakers-Celtics is the marquee rivalry historically in the league. It was placed on primetime on a Saturday night. And the biggest talking point from the game is the officiating. It should be a point of embarrassment for the league.
But instead, we get this Last Two Minute Report and another instance of what should have been this season.
For more Lakers talk, subscribe to the Silver Screen and Roll podcast feed on iTunes, Spotify, Stitcher or Google Podcasts. You can follow Jacob on Twitter at @JacobRude.