The Lakers and Suns produced the best In-Season Tournament game of the season so far on Monday with the hosts coming away with a 106-103 victory. But the contest had a fair bit of controversy attached to it at the end.
Late in the game with the Suns down two points and under 10 seconds remaining, the Lakers in-bounded the ball to Austin Reaves. After trying to draw a foul, Reaves was stripped of the ball. However, with the ball rolling across the court, the Lakers were awarded a timeout, called by LeBron James.
The Lakers were granted a timeout during this play.— ClutchPoints (@ClutchPoints) December 6, 2023
Did Austin Reaves have possession of the ball? pic.twitter.com/Bk9bVb0S8N
To call it a contentious decision would be an understatement. A livid Suns coaching staff debated the call at midcourt during the timeout, obviously to no avail. The Lakers would go on to win the game after a Kevin Durant 3-pointer that would have tied the game was airballed.
After the contest, Crew Chief Josh Tiven spoke to pool reporter Jovan Buha of The Athletic about the call.
QUESTION: Why were the Lakers awarded a timeout when it appeared that they did not have possession of the ball?
TIVEN: During live play the official felt that LA still had possession of the ball when LeBron James requested the timeout. Through postgame video review in slow motion replay, we did see that Austin Reaves had his left hand on the ball while it’s pinned against his left leg, which does constitute control.
QUESTION: Who called the timeout that was rewarded?
TIVEN: LeBron James did.
Not the answer Suns fans or players were wanting, for sure! Postgame, both Frank Vogel and Devin Booker expressed their frustration at the call.
Suns coach Frank Vogel said referees told him they couldn’t review Lakers’ last timeout on Austin Reaves scramble. Vogel wanted inadvertent whistle & said call hurt worse because of tourney stakes.— Ben Golliver (@BenGolliver) December 6, 2023
“We were ready to tie the game up and that opportunity was taken away from us.” pic.twitter.com/4y2rcJTRaS
Suns’ Devin Booker said the Lakers’ controversial late timeout call hurt worse because of the in-season tournament stakes: “Yeah, when they put so much anticipation on the game. We’re not asking for favoritism, just a fair chance. … To watch it unfold like that is tough.” pic.twitter.com/XFozEtS5Gd— Ben Golliver (@BenGolliver) December 6, 2023
Before Booker even made it to the podium, he took to Twitter to also express his thoughts.
Devin Booker posted the receipts on the controversial timeout by LeBron James— ClutchPoints (@ClutchPoints) December 6, 2023
(via dbook/IG) pic.twitter.com/8fFbDZlL88
The only thing Booker did more quickly on Tuesday than complain about the officials on social media was rack up turnovers. It was a long night for Booker, who had more turnovers (7) than field goals (6) and nearly had as many fouls (5).
Booker has made a habit of complaining about officials after recent Lakers losses, too. Last season, Booker lost his mind at the Lakers free throw shooting, leading to fines being handed out by the league.
Interestingly, Booker chose not to take a screenshot of his possible foul on Reaves on that play, nor the fact he kicked the ball after it bounced free.
Fortunately, the 2-minute report will shed some light on the situation and it would be shocking if that doesn’t also come out in the Lakers' favor.
You can follow Jacob on Twitter at @JacobRude.