The Lakers were leading by eight over the Rockets on Tuesday with 2:31 to go in the game when Houston’s Kevin Porter Jr. committed a foul on Lakers wing Kent Bazemore. It was, according to the scoreboard, the fifth foul on the Rockets in the quarter, which meant the Lakers were in the bonus and Bazemore was up for two free throws. He made them both.
Lakers up, 116-106. Right?
Well, not quite. The Rockets scored five straight points, cutting the lead to 116-111, and when the Lakers called a timeout to regroup, the refs made a discovery: The Rockets’ foul had been their fourth, not fifth. Bazemore should not have been shooting free throws. The refs responded by removing two points from the Lakers, and just like that, the 10-point lead was down to three.
But in the process, the Lakers were jobbed out of a possession. Maybe Bazemore should not have had the free-throws, but the Lakers should have maintained the ball and a chance to score in that instance.
“It’s definitely something the league’s got to look at,” coach Frank Vogel said. “I understand the mindset to get it right. … But they just take the points off the board, OK, which is to me, like, once play you resumes, you can’t correct that. You can’t correct it. The league’s got to look at that. Because they can’t give us that possession back.”
Anthony Davis: ‘Good Thing it Didn’t Hurt Us’
The league will take a look at the situation, but the reality is, it almost never comes up. The problem, apparently, was that the scoreboard operator changed the foul total from three to four too quickly, making the refs think that the new foul was No. 5.
Here’s how Davis saw things:
The scoreboard had four team fouls, you know, they saw four when they called the foul, which means it was the fifth and they shot two free throws. When they went back to look at it, there was only four team fouls, when they went back to look at it, it was really four. So they took the two points away and what me, Bron and coach was explaining to the refs—well, we lost a possession. We didn’t take the ball out or anything, we shot free throws, take the points away, now we just lose the entire possession. Which could have cost us the game. They were saying there was nothing they could do about it. Good thing it didn’t hurt us, but it was just a funky situation.
Lakers Held Off Pesky Rockets
In the end, it did not matter. The Lakers were able to hold off the hard-charging young Rockets for the second straight time, edging out an offensive-minded, 119-117 win after the defense keyed a 95-85 victory on Sunday. Davis said the Lakers will be glad to put the Rockets behind them.
“They made shots tonight,” Davis said. “All their guys shot the ball well. Their whole starting five shot the ball well, and their guys off the bench. Hats off to them. That’s a young team that is coming in and playing with a lot of freedom. And they got guys who can play. Sunday they did not make a lot of shots, but tonight they did. We just try to play as good a defense as we can.”
It’s the Lakers’ fifth win in six games, and they will line up against the Thunder, the team that delivered their only loss in the six-game stretch (OKC’s only win of the season), on Thursday.