Lakers' Walton sounds off on officiating after loss
NBA.com Global on Oct 23, 2018 10:19 PM
Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James, left, shoots as San Antonio Spurs forward Dante Cunningham defends during the second half of an NBA basketball game, Monday, Oct. 22, 2018, in Los Angeles. The Spurs won 143-142. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)
NBA.com staff report
Los Angeles Lakers coach Luke Walton was obviously unhappy after his team's 143-142 overtime loss to the San Antonio Spurs on Monday (Tuesday, PHL time). Part of the frustration came in seeing his team fight back to force overtime and build -- and then lose -- a 142-136 lead in the extra frame. Another part of his frustration came from his view of the officiating in last night's game, and, it seems, the season at large.
Before the start of this season, the Points of Education disseminated to all teams promised to focus on three key areas: freedom of movement on the perimeter and in the post, respect for the game and traveling. The Lakers and Walton were frustrated during and after night's game over what they thought were a lack of calls in some of those regards.
Once the game was over, Walton opened his news conference with a lengthy comment about the officiating. In last night's loss, the Spurs attempted 38 free throws (making 28) to the Lakers 26 free-throw attempts (and 18 makes).
🎥 Luke Walton talks about the team's fight to come back and force overtime, and the impact of Johnathan Williams in his NBA debut pic.twitter.com/sWBR3fbbe6— Los Angeles Lakers (@Lakers) October 23, 2018
"Let me start here. ... I wasn't going to say anything. I was going to save my money, but I just can't anymore," Walton said. "It's  points in the paint [by the Lakers] to 50, [and yet] again they outshoot us from the free-throw line -- 38 free throws. Watch the play where I got a technical foul. Watch what happened to LeBron James' arm. It's the same thing that James Harden and Chris Paul [drew fouls on and] shot 30 free throws on us the night before. ... We are scoring 70 points a night. In the paint.
"Watch how Josh Hart plays this game. He played 40 minutes tonight. All he does is attack the rim. Zero free throws tonight. Zero. So to me, it doesn't matter. I know they're young, I get that. But if we are going to play a certain way, let's not reward people for flopping 30 feet from the hole on plays that have nothing to do with that possession. They're just flopping just to see if they get a foul call. And then not reward players that are physically going to the basket and getting hit. It's not right."
The Lakers are the No. 2 team in the league scoring in the paint, averaging 71.3 ppg (trailing only the New Orleans Pelicans' mark of 76 ppg). After last night's loss, the Lakers rank 20th in free throw attempts (71) and 21st in free throws made (53). Additionally, the Lakers are 24th in total drives this season (110) and 23rd in free throw attempts (six) and free throws made (six) off drives. In 2017-18, the Lakers finished eighth in total free throw attempts and 16th in free throws made while ranking in the top 20 in total drives, free throw attempts and free throws made off drives.
Lakers star LeBron James sparked the L.A. comeback and early OT lead with 32 points, 14 assists and eight rebounds. He said he knows there is an adjustment period ahead for the Lakers -- both in learning the new points of education and in getting in L.A. its first win of 2018-19.
🎥 LeBron James details the back-and-forth game against the Spurs. pic.twitter.com/YC1Pft1tsu— Los Angeles Lakers (@Lakers) October 23, 2018
"It's just hard with the new rule changes. You literally can't touch anybody -- well, you can, you can touch somebody defensively," James said. "You just can't. There's nothing [you can do]. We don't know. We're trying to figure it out. But every time we're on the defensive end, especially in the third quarter, we just kept putting them to the free throw line. But we got to try to figure that out because it's just giving teams too many easy opportunities to just go up there and knock down free throws."
As for the Lakers' winless start to the season, James is taking a long view with his first season in Los Angeles.
“I know what I got myself into,” James said. “It’s a process. I get it. We’ll be fine. I didn’t come here thinking we were going to be blazing storms right out the gate. It’s a process and I understand that. It’s frustrating not to get the win, but I’ve showered and I’m good now.
"We're going to continue to get better. We're going to continue to get better. I like the direction we're going in. Obviously, it's not resulting in the wins right now but it's such a long process."