The Los Angeles Lakers and Oklahoma City Thunder just played an epic Game 3, with the Lakers pulling out the win to move the series to 2-1. Both teams looked gassed and they will have to play again Saturday night. There are a lot of storylines from Friday, but one that keeps popping up involves the referees. Did the referees play a larger role than normal in Game 3?
For starters, the Lakers made 11 shots in the second half, yet managed to score 49 points. How do you do that? By going 26-27 from the foul line. We can go even more in depth with this. Both teams were charged with six shooting fouls in the second half. The Thunder only took 14 free throws compared to LA’s 27. A little bit strange, right?
I can not comment on the first 4 minutes of the third, but I did watch the rest of the game. The referees did make some questionable calls, but nothing unusual. If a player tells a ref to watch for something, they will watch for it. That could explain the next paragraph better.
What stuck me as odd was the final two minutes of the game. Each possession, the referees seemed to look at differently. Some times contact was fine, other times it was an instant whistle. James Harden picked up a foul after bumping into Kobe Bryant with the ball nowhere near them. It was a tiny bump, yet Kobe got two free throws.
Kobe will get the benefit of the calls because that is the nature of basketball. He’s been around for a long time and Harden is still a young pup. But it was still a very weak call. This was compounded when Harden grabbed another foul about 30 seconds later. This gave him five fouls and changed the game.
With the Lakers down by one, the ball went to Bryant. Harden couldn’t afford to pick up another foul, so Russell Westbrook switched over. Westbrook couldn’t guard Kobe if he could hand check him with a taser, so Bryant drew the foul and sank both free throws. LA would never trail again.
The Lakers may have gotten more calls, but they were also more aggressive. Time and time again they were driving to the basket. They also took advantage of the fouls they drew. They took 42 shots from the line and made 41. That is simply unheard of. If LA went 38 for 42, which is still insane, they probably lose the game. Both sides can use that argument, but I look at it as the Lakers being more aggressive and forcing the issue.
The referees will be looked at, but I think LA took this fair and square. Yes, the referees did play a role but it was nothing like Game 6 from 2000. We all know what I am talking about. Look for another great Game 4 on Saturday, hopefully sans controversy.