No one really believes and trusts the NBA officials, or the league itself, with David Stern sitting on top of the mountain. When you see the kind of calls the Los Angeles Lakers have been getting or getting away with in recent games as they attempt to make the final spot into the NBA playoffs, you can’t help to think that there’s some foul play involved, or at least wouldn’t be surprised to hear about something along those lines going on.
After being blown out by the Los Angeles Clippers on February 14, losing 125-101, few thought that they would still make the postseason, with a 25-29 record and a non-existent team chemistry thing going on. But thanks to Dwight Howard patching things up with Steve Nash and maybe Kobe Bryant, while Bryant takes on his favorite role of franchise savior through selfish scoring, the Lakers made a comeback, even grabbing on to the 7th spot for a short while.
Right now, they’re 0.5 games behind the Jazz for the final ticket, but have been quite a few tight games that were not only controversial, but simply officiated the wrong way. When it happens once or twice, you can live with that, being used to the incompetence of NBA referees. But when it happens again and again, especially in favor of the Lakers who are always going to get highlighted more than others when these things go on, some questions have to be raised.
Like in their 111-107 win over the Portland Trail Blazers, when it seemed fouling was deemed different for both sides. The Lakers went to the line 34 times, the Blazers only 12. Yes, it had to do with some hack-a-Dwight tactics, but there were some clearly bogus calls, not to mention a technical or two going to Portland for not understanding why they’re being refereed unfairly, and not just when it came to fouls.
Fast forward to the next game, two days later. A crucial one against the Dallas Mavericks, also back in the hunt for that last playoff ticket. The Lakers win 103-99 in Dallas. The most memorable call from that game was Dirk Nowitzki being clear-as-daylight fouled by Metta World Peace on a big shot in the fourth quarter, not getting the call and then getting the technical for arguing. There were some weird calls in their next game against the Nuggets as well, but Denver are a much better team, even without any favors from the referees, winning 119-108.
Close games are where the problems are, as we move forward to their win over the Minnesota Timberwolves on March 27, 120-117. Ricky Rubio races down the court to try and pull off a game tying three pointer. Kobe Bryant fouls him from behind in a way everyone on the court saw and actually thought it was going to be called. When you see the Lakers players as the buzzer goes off, they’re actually surprised to come out as winners from that game.
The latest brand of “Lakers-Justice” came in the recent 103-98 win over the Sacramento Kings. With the Lakers leading 100-98 and 24 seconds to go, Kobe Bryant hit the backboard instead of a bucket, but the Lakers got saved with a call out of nowhere, for nothing that actually happened, giving them one point from the line to win the game. DeMarcus Cousins gets clearly fouled by Dwight Howard on the other end, doesn’t get the call, game over.
The lesson to be learned? Have a big enough lead and cushion in the fourth quarter when you’re playing the Lakers, unless you want to be seeing your game being added to this mix.