Sunday, June 4 2023
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The Lakers lost another close game Sunday night, this time it was at the hands of the Philadelphia 76ers, where officiating was again the main storyline. In the closing seconds of L.A.’s 113-112 loss, Russell Westbrook tried to take Joel Embiid one-on-one, and after driving to the basket thew up a shot that didn’t even come into contact with the rim.

After the game, when asked about the final possession, Westbrook called attention to what he deemed was a foul on Embiid that was missed by the officials. The Lakers guard said “I couldn’t get my hand up to shoot because [Embiid] was grabbing it.” Monday, the league’s Last Two Minute Report from the game unveiled that the officials made the correct no-call. In the league’s explanation it said, “Embiid slightly extends his arm before retracting it and marginal arm contact occurs with Westbrook during the driving shot attempt.”

Here’s the play in question:

End of discussion, right? Nope. The story continued Monday afternoon after LeBron James went on Twitter to criticize recent officiating. James responded to a tweet that called attention to the ending of the Lakers’ last two games, in which two no-calls ended up being deciding factors in each game. 

“And all year they keep telling me to my face on the court, ‘I didn’t see it’ or ‘It wasn’t a foul,'” James wrote on Twitter. “It’s not making sense to me seriously! Frustrating as hell man! Anyways keep going Squad!”

After the no-call at the end of the game on Sunday, many Twitter users began posting different angles of the final play of the game, where you can see Embiid grabbing — and holding onto — Westbrook’s wrist as he drives toward the rim. 

There’s even a very clear image showing Embiid’s hand grasping Westbrook’s wrist on the final play.


However, the league deemed this not sufficient enough contact for a foul to be called. It’s the second straight game in which officiating has come into question for the Lakers, the previous being a double overtime loss to the Mavericks on Friday. The Last Two Minute Report from that game showed that the officials missed a foul committed by Christian Wood at the end of the first overtime, as James was attempting what would’ve been a game-winning layup.

After that game James had a fiery response, not about that possession, but what he felt was a missed call at the end of regulation. As Troy Brown attempted a potential game-winning 3-pointer, Tim Hardaway Jr. came into contact with Brown’s hand, but officials agreed that it wasn’t a foul. James thought otherwise, saying “That’s a f—ing foul.”

Given that no-calls have impacted each of the Lakers’ last two games, it’s understandable that James would be frustrated with officiating. However it’s not a unique situation to the Lakers, and James is far from the first player to feel as though his team is getting the short end of the stick with officiating. Back in November Sacramento Kings guard Kevin Huerter said that referees officiate Kings games differently compared to every other team in the league. Ja Morant has taken to social media to criticize officiating, saying referees have “too much power.”

Referees missing calls isn’t something that’s happening to just the Lakers, as some on Twitter may suggest, but it has become a major issue around the league this season where officials have missed crucial calls, or have been far too quick to hand out technicals and ejections. 

The Lakers-Mavericks game is actually the perfect example. While James and Lakers fans may be upset about the missed call at the end of the first overtime, the Last Two Minute Report also revealed that the referees missed a whopping four incorrect calls that went against the Mavericks. 

The inconsistent officiating is happening across the league, and while each team or player may feel like their team is getting dealt a lousy hand more than others, what’s really going on is some of the officiating has just been plain bad. 



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