LeBron James, Darvin Ham Cry Foul After Lakers’ Loss to Suns

Lakers star LeBron James reacts after a call

Getty LeBron James #23 of the Los Angeles Lakers reacts to referee Natalie Sago #9 after a foul call during the second half of the NBA game against the Phoenix Suns.

The Los Angeles Lakers cried foul over a season-low eight free-throw attempts in their 123-113 loss to the Phoenix Suns on Sunday, February 25, at Footprint Center.

“I just think you know it seems that the whistle for us is quick,” Lakers coach Darvin Ham lamented to reporters after their second loss in three games coming out of the NBA All-Star break.

In contrast, the Suns had 11 more attempts at the line and went 18 of 19.

“I’m not one to use referees as an excuse,” Ham added. “But it’s becoming increasingly tough because of the inconsistency. I’m seeing our guys get the same contact on them as we’re supposedly committing. And the whistle is not being blown.”

Lakers superstar LeBron James just shook his head and laughed when asked about their season-low free-throw attempts.

“A lot of people, a lot of coaches, a lot of teams are like, ‘That’s all the Lakers do is get to the free throw line,'” James told reporters. “It’s like this narrative out there that that’s all we do is get to the free throw line. I mean, we have attackers. That’s what we do. We have attackers. Yeah, we shoot the ball from the perimeter, but we’re not shooting 40 to 50 3s a game. We’re not that team. We don’t have the luxury of being that team. So, working it into the paint, that’s what we’re really good at.

“To have eight free throw attempts is definitely not us. I know, definitely, I got hit a couple of times when I got to the paint tonight that wasn’t called. But it is what it is.”

The Lakers entered the marquee matchup averaging 24.6 free throw attempts, the sixth-most in the league. They did not attempt a single one in the second half.

James finished with a game-high 28 points, 7 rebounds and 12 assists but only shot a 1 of 4 from the line.

Lakers’ Slow Start

But the Lakers shot themselves in the foot with their lackadaisical start. They gave up 45 first-quarter points and trailed by as many as 20 early in the game.

While they managed to cut the deficit and came within two late in the third quarter, they were too to gassed catching up with the Suns.

Phoenix clobbered Los Angeles in the glass with a massive 51-34 advantage. The Suns were plus-12 in second-chance points which stymied the Lakers’ rally.

Phoenix center Jusuf Nurkic outplayed Anthony Davis. Nurkic set the tone for the Suns with 22 rebounds, 18 points and 7 assists. His seven offensive rebounds dwarfed the Lakers as a whole who only grabbed three on the offensive glass for the entire game.

Anthony Davis ‘Not Sure’ if Refs Missing or Suns Weren’t Fouling

Davis managed to finish with 22 points, 14 rebounds, 3 steals and 2 blocks. But he never got to the free throw line for the time this season after averaging 7.0 attempts per game entering the match.

“We live on getting to the line. We attack the basket,” Davis told reporters. “Especially how much we struggle from the 3, we’re kind of up and down, so we try to live in the paint and get to the line. I’m not sure if it was just the refs missing it or they weren’t fouling. I felt I got fouled a couple of times. But that’s part of our identity, our DNA, is getting to the line and guys catching rhythms like that and then playing from there.”

The Lakers had a 12-point advantage in points in the paint (52-40) which shows the Lakers were more aggressive in attacking inside.

“That’s something we focus on, trying to win the free throw line every game,” Ham said. “And so that’s tough. I’m telling my guys to drive downhill; we’re trying to love and live in the paint. And you’re not getting calls. I see guys with their hands in our guys’ ribs or swinging, swiping at their heads, trying to block the shot but not getting the ball, but getting a piece of the body. And it’s not being called, as simple as that.

“So, we have to figure out ways to not let that be a problem, but it’s tough. Again, it’s frustrating when there’s so much inconsistency.”