Los Angeles Lakers: Ham and LeBron frustrated by referees in Suns loss

Los Angeles Lakers coach Darvin Ham hit out at the inconsistency of the refereeing following his side’s 123-113 loss to the Phoenix Suns last night.

The Lakers had just eight free throw attempts in the contest – well down on their average of 24.7 per game this season – and significantly fewer than Phoenix, who had 19.

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For a team that thrives on driving into the paint, that was a major factor in the loss and Ham was not impressed.

He said: “I’m not one to use referees as an excuse 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.

“That’s something we focus on, trying to win the free throw line every game. 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.”

The Lakers had the fewest free throw attempts in a game since LeBron James joined in 2018.

The former Cleveland star said: “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’. 

“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 times when I got to the paint tonight that wasn’t called. But it is what it is.”

James was 1-from-4 from the line while Anthony Davis, who averages 5.4 free throw attempts this season, did not have a single effort.

“We live on getting to the line. We attack the basket,” Davis said. 

“Especially how much we struggle from the three, 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.”

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