On the final play of regulation, James dished the ball to Troy Brown Jr., who took a three-pointed and got hit on the hand by Mavericks forward Tim Hardaway Jr. The shot was an airball and the teams went to overtime — and then double-overtime.
Brown was asked about the play in the locker room by reporters but it was James who delivered the answer.
“It’s a f***ing foul. It was a foul,” James can be heard saying off-camera. “No matter what TB says, it was a f***ing foul.”
In his own conference, James likely wanted to avoid a fine, issuing a one-word response when asked if he felt it was a foul.
“Obviously,” James said.
Brown took a more civil route in his assessment of that play.
“At the end of the day, they didn’t call it, we go to OT. It is what it is,” Brown said. “I stand on it. I’m not deciding or picking or anything like that. They human. I thought there was contact, they don’t call it, it is what it is. It’s not my job to ref.”
Crew chief Josh Tiven confirmed after the game that he felt that there was no foul on the play.
“Hardaway Jr. gets a piece of the ball on the closeout and then does make some high-five contact which is legal and that play was correctly no called,” Tiven said in the pool report, per Chris Mannix of Sports Illustrated.
LeBron James Has ‘Off Night’ in Loss to Mavericks
The Lakers clawed their way back into the game after trailing at the half and did so despite an off night from James, who has been on a scoring tear. He finished the night 9-of-28 shooting, missing all seven of his three-point attempts.
The final miss from deep came with 7 seconds left in the second overtime period with the Lakers down four. James did not feel like it was a bad shot to take, despite his struggles during the game.
“I work too hard on my craft to ever question any shot I take,” James said. “Just an off night for me.”
James finished with 24 points, 10 rebounds and nine assists. He played a season-high 47 minutes in the loss.
LeBron Laments Shifting Lineups Due to Injury
The Lakers have been able to make up ground in the standings despite some key injuries. LA was missing Anthony Davis, Austin Reaves, Lonnie Walker IV and Patrick Beverley against the Mavericks. The only consistency James could identify for the Lakers this season is the inconsistency with the lineups they roll out.
“The one consistent thing that we have is a billion different lineups,” James said.
It also didn’t help the Lakers that Luka Doncic was doing Luke Donic-type things. He nailed a pair of clutch 3-pointers at the end of regulation to tie the game and did it again in overtime. Doncic finished with 35 points and James gave him a big embrace after the game.
“Big-time players make big-time shots,” James said. “It’s that simple.”
The Lakers will look to rebound when they take on the Philadelphia 76ers on Sunday.