LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers kicked off their Eastern Conference road trip with a heartbreaking overtime loss against the Boston Celtics on Saturday night. The highly anticipated matchup was part of the ongoing rivals week in the league and was a close game till the last minute.
However, that game ideally should not have gone to overtime at all. With 4 seconds left on the clock in the fourth quarter, the scores were tied at 105 a piece with the Lakers having possession. Guard Dennis Schröder inbounded the ball to LeBron James at the top of the key, who then drove straight to the basket.
As LeBron went up for the potential game-winning layup, he was clearly hit on the arm by Jayson Tatum who was attempting to block his shot. What seemed to be a clear foul by Tatum did not get called by the officials who let the clock run out and the game went to OT, ending in a 125-121 win for the Celtics.
What did LeBron James say about the no-call decision?
Was it actually a foul by Tatum? No reason for doubt was left after the instant replay, and after the game, to nobody’s surprise, the league admitted in different ways that LeBron indeed was fouled. The league released its ‘Last Two Minute Report’ for the game which confirmed that it was an incorrect non-call on James as Jayson Tatum should have been called for a foul.
This is one of the worst non calls I’ve seen. Literally cost @KingJames & #Lakers #SMH pic.twitter.com/6IqIGYWrbm
— Jerry Hairston, Jr. (@TheRealJHair) January 29, 2023
Also, the crew chief for the game, Eric Lewis, admitted that the refs missed that call. “There was contact,” he said to a pool reporter after the game. “At the time, during the game, we did not see a foul. The crew missed the play.”. Even before all this, the league contacted the Lakers on game night itself to inform them of the screw-up.
The official Twitter account of the NBA refs also publicly admitted to their fault, tweeting, “Like everyone else, referees make mistakes. We made one at the end of last night’s game and that is gut-wrenching for us. This play will weigh heavily and cause sleepless nights as we strive to be the best referees we can be.” as they acknowledged their mistake amidst a huge backlash.
Like everyone else, referees make mistakes. We made one at the end of last night’s game and that is gut-wrenching for us. This play will weigh heavily and cause sleepless nights as we strive to be the best referees we can be.https://t.co/WyN8QVuTOl
— NBA Referees (@OfficialNBARefs) January 29, 2023
After the play culminated, LeBron James was understandably livid about the no-call. Usually someone who keeps his composure, he was as animated as ever this time. After the game, a dejected LeBron said to the media, “I don’t get it. I’m attacking the paint just as much as any of the other guys in this league that are shooting double-digit free throws per night. I don’t get it. I don’t understand.”, he said.
This wasn’t the first time that the Lakers were on the receiving end of a game-altering call, and LeBron had previously also expressed his frustration over the other missed calls. The no-call resulted in a Lakers’ loss at a time when they are toughing it out in the ultra-competitive Western Conference. This loss dropped them to a 23-27 record with the 13th spot in the West.