• Fri. Jun 21st, 2024

LeBron disputes ruling on final shot as Lakers fall to Wolves


MINNEAPOLIS — After a potential tying shot by LeBron James in the waning seconds Saturday was ruled a 2-pointer rather than a 3 following a video review, James expressed frustration after the Los Angeles Lakers lost 108-106 to the Minnesota Timberwolves and questioned the efficacy of the NBA’s replay process.

“What the hell do we got replay for?” James said as he sat back in his chair inside the visitors locker room at Target Center. “What do we have replay for if even the replay gets it wrong? It’s just like, who is a part of the replay center? Like, do we got robots in there making Teslas? Like, what’s going on?”

James’ transition shot from the left wing with 2.3 seconds left would have tied the score at 107, completing a furious rally after the Lakers fell down by seven in the final minutes to the No. 1 team in the West. However, referee Brent Barnaky determined that James’ toe was on the 3-point line when he shot it, thus making the basket worth only two points.

During an ensuing timeout, James pointed to a monitor at center court to plead his case to the referees while the sequence was being analyzed at the NBA replay center in Secaucus, New Jersey. James told officials that his sneaker was not touching the 3-point line.

“I mean, it’s obvious it’s a 3,” James said. “My foot was behind the line. You can see the space between the front of my foot and the 3-point line. You can clearly see the wood on the floor, the space in between the front of my foot and the 3-point line. Stevie Wonder can see that, champ.”

Crew chief Tony Brothers, speaking to a pool reporter after the game, explained why the initial 2-point call was not overturned.

“The play was ruled a 2-point field goal on the floor during live play,” Brothers said. “After video review, there wasn’t clear and conclusive evidence to overturn it from a 2 to a 3, and that’s why it stood as a 2-point field goal.”

The Lakers vehemently disagreed.

“The view I had, I thought it was a clear-cut 3,” Lakers coach Darvin Ham said. “Our guys on the sideline replayed it. We thought it was a good 3.”

Added Anthony Davis: “You can see the space between his foot and the 3-point line. You can see the floor, which indicates his foot was behind the line. If it was on the line for a 2, you wouldn’t be able to see the floor.”

James questioned the credentials of the employees working at the replay center, jabbing that it could have been “somebody over there eating a ham sandwich” who was left making the crucial call.

He said it brought to mind “five or six” times from last season when James believes the Lakers had incorrect calls work against them in late-game scenarios, including a memorable no-call when Jayson Tatum clearly slapped James’ arm on a drive to the hoop in an eventual loss to the Boston Celtics.

James said, as was the case in those games last season, the referees would “look stupid” when the league releases its Last Two Minute Report grading the calls from the end of Saturday’s game.

The Lakers got one more chance to tie the score against the Timberwolves, inbounding the ball with 1.4 seconds left to James on the left baseline, but he was doubled by Anthony Edwards and Rudy Gobert and unable to get a shot off before the buzzer.

“I kind of misread that,” James said. “I’ve been in that situation before. I just got to do a better job of knowing time. I could have caught it and shot it right away.”

The disappointing closing seconds spoiled a 26-point night for James on his 39th birthday and wasted a dominant 33-point, 17-rebound, 8-assist, 4-steal performance by Davis.

The loss dropped Los Angeles to 3-7 in its past 10 games since winning the inaugural in-season tournament championship in Las Vegas earlier this month.

“We’re all trying to figure this out, man,” James said. “What are we? 33 games now? 17-16, I think. Thirty-three games in and we’re still just trying to figure out lineups and rotations and who to have on the floor at certain moments.”


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