LeBron questions decision on final shot after loss
James expressed his frustration with the Lakers' loss to the Timberwolves and questioned the decision as well as the effectiveness of the NBA's restart process.
MINNEAPOLIS — After a potential tying shot by LeBron James in the final seconds of Saturday's game was ruled a double and not a triple in video review, James expressed frustration with the Los Angeles Lakers' 108-106 loss to the Minnesota Timberwolves and questioned it. The decision, as well as the effectiveness of the NBA's replay process.
“Why the hell are we replaying,” James said, leaning back in his chair inside the visitors’ locker room at Target Center. “Why do we have redundancy if redundancy is wrong? I mean, who's part of the redundancy center? Do we have robots out there making Tesla cars? What's going on?”
James' shot from the left wing with 2.3 seconds left would have tied the score at 107, completing a furious comeback after the Lakers trailed by seven goals in the final minutes against the No. 1 team in the West. However, referee Brent Barnacki ruled that James' toe was on the three-point line when he shot, so the basket was only worth two points.
During the next timeout, James pointed to a screen in center court to make his case to the referees while footage was analyzed at the NBA Replay Center in Secaucus, New Jersey. James told officers that his sneakers did not touch the three-point line.
“I mean, obviously it's a 3-pointer,” James said. “My feet were behind the line. You can see the space between the ball of my foot and the three-point line. You can clearly see the wood on the floor, the space between the ball of my foot and the three-point line. The points. Stevie Wonder can see that, champ.”
Speaking to a pool reporter after the game, team president Tony Brothers explained why the initial two-point decision was not overturned.
“The match was ruled a score of two points on the field during the live match,” Brothers said. He added: “After reviewing the video, there was no clear and conclusive evidence to return it from double to triple, which is why it was considered that way.”
The Lakers disagreed vehemently.
“The way I looked at it, I thought it was a clear three,” the Lakers coach said. Darvin Ham. “Our guys on the bench repeated it. We thought it was a good 3-pointer.”
“You can see the space between his foot and the three-point line. And you can see the floor, which shows his foot was behind the line. If he was on the line for two, it wouldn't do that,” Anthony Davis added. Be able to see the word.”
James questioned the credentials of staff working at the replication centre, claiming it could have been “someone standing there eating a ham sandwich” who made the crucial decision.
He said it reminded him of “five or six times” last season when James thought the Lakers had bad calls on him in late-game scenarios, including a memorable non-call when Jayson Tatum pointedly slapped James on the arm. Edge in Finals loss to Boston Celtics.
James said that, as was the case in those games last season, the referees “are going to look stupid” when the league releases its final-two-minute report that grades the calls at the end of Saturday's game.
The Lakers had another opportunity to tie the score against the Timberwolves, as they shot the ball with 1.4 seconds left in the game to James on the left baseline, but Anthony Edwards and Rudy Gobert prevented him from shooting the ball.
“I kind of misunderstood that,” James said. “I've been in this situation before. I just had to do a better job of timing it. I could have caught him and shot him on the spot.”
The disappointing final seconds ruined a 26-point night for James on his 39th birthday and wasted a dominant 33-point, 17-rebound, eight-assist and four-steal performance from Davis.
The loss left Los Angeles with a 3-7 record in its last 10 games since winning the season-opening tournament championship in Las Vegas earlier this month.
“We're all trying to figure it out, man,” James said. “What are we? 33 games now? 17-16, I think, 33 games and we're still trying to figure out lineups and rotations and who should be on the field at certain times.”