Raptors coach infuriated with refs after Lakers shoot 23 fourth-quarter free throws

LOS ANGELES — The Lakers defeated the Raptors 132-131, as Anthony Davis led all scorers with 41 points, which tied a season-high. Notably, Davis scored 20 fourth-quarter points, going 11-of-11 from the free throw line, while as a team, the Lakers went 19-of-23 from the charity strike in the final period.

Darko Rajakovic
Darko Rajakovic. (Michael Grange/X)

On the other hand, the Raptors only went to the free throw line twice in the final quarter, but were just narrowly outscored 44-42 in fourth-quarter points, as they came up one-point short in a highly contested game.

Considering that, Toronto coach Darko Rajakovic was irate in the postgame press conference.

“It’s outrageous. What happened tonight, this is completely BS,” Rajakovic said. “This is a shame. Shame for the referees. Shame for the league to allow this, 23 free throws for them, and we get two free throws in the fourth quarter? Like, how to play the game? I understand respect for All-Stars and all that, but we have star players on our team as well.”

Following the game, fans also took to social media to express concerns about the many questionable calls, including the lopsided differentiation of free-throw attempts between both teams. Seeing that, many are siding with the Raptors coach, who insinuated that the referees were influencing the game in the Lakers’ favor.

“They had to win tonight? If that’s the case, just let us know, so we don’t show up for the game,” Rajakovic said. “Just give them a win. But that was not fair tonight. And this is not happening for the first time for us.”

The league office will definitely look not only into the refs’ calls made during the game but also Rajakovic’s criticisms, which more likely than not will result in a hefty fine for the first-year Raptors coach. Speaking out in regards to both missed calls and calls against his team, the Serbian coach was unable to refrain from speaking his mind, “What’s happening over here, during the whole season, I’ve been holding back, it’s complete crap.”

After being asked about if the referees had given any explanations for some of the calls in Tuesday night’s game, Rajakovic stated, “No, no there is no explanation, they just come up there and review and see what they want to see.” Upon taking a quick peep at the stat sheet, the coach exclaimed, “Over the game, they got 36 free throws, 23 free throws in the 4th quarter. What are we talking about? What are we talking about? How are we supposed to play?” 

When looking at the astounding number of free throws attempted by the Lakers, it may be important to note that 10 of their fourth-quarter free throws did come from intentional fouls. Nevertheless, there certainly seemed to be a disparity between calls that were given to both teams throughout the game, as Davis shot 14 of the Lakers’ 36 free throws, while the entire Toronto roster had only 13 attempts as a team.

“How is it possible that Scottie Barnes, who is an All-Star-caliber player in this league, he goes every single time to the rim with force and trying to get to the rim without flopping and not trying to get foul calls, he gets two free throws for a whole game?” Rajakovic raised his voice. “How is that possible? How are you going to explain that to me?”

Despite feeling that they were not given a fair chance in this contest, the Raptors put up a fight, in a game that went back and forth all night long. At one point, with 25 seconds left, the Lakers were leading 124-121, when Barnes hit a game-tying three-pointer, but it didn’t count as RJ Barrett was called for an offensive foul.

To highlight, four out of the team’s five starters scored 20+ points, Barnes (26), Pascal Siakam (25), and newly acquired Barrett and Immanuel Quickley contributed 23 and 21 points, respectively. Also, former Lakers guard Dennis Schroder had 10 points and six assists off the bench.

When looking at the Lakers, LeBron James had 22 points and 12 assists but was held scoreless in the last five minutes of regulation. Being that, James let AD keep the ball in his hands late in the game, as the big man capped off an impressive performance by scoring 10 points in the final minute.

LeBron pointed out the gameplan heading into the game, “We knew we had an advantage on the interior tonight, and we just tried to get it to (AD) early and often and late.” 

Given the mismatch in the paint, Davis was being guarded by 6-foot-8 Thaddeus Young, 35, since injured starting center Jakob Poeltl (ankle) was out. Undoubtedly, AD was able to take full advantage of his size down low, ending the night with a stat line of 41 points (13-of-17 FG, 13-of-14 FT), 11 rebounds, six assists, and one late-game block on Barnes

While filling in for the starting center role, Young scored 10 points, five rebounds, and four assists to go along with three steals and one block. In the postgame press conference, he highlighted the team’s comradery, along with emphasizing that the team has their coach’s back, “He’s all for us as a family and team,” Young stated following the coach’s rant. “We’re always going to stick together. We’re always going to be behind one another and he’s always been behind us since day one coming in here. And he is going to continue to fight for us. We love Darko to death, we definitely think the world of coach, and we appreciate him going to bat for us.”

The Raptors now fall to a 15-22 record and are currently the 11th-ranked team in the Eastern Conference standings. On the other hand, the Lakers now move back to a .500 record (18-18), winning back-to-back games for the first time since the NBA In-Season Tournament, and are currently the 10th-ranked team in the Western Conference.

Even though a win is a win, there will unequivocally be a lot to say by the media and fans alike, in respect to the impact the refs had on the outcome of this game. 

Despite the controversy, Young ultimately chose his words more carefully than his coach, “This was a tough game for us, you know things happen towards the end of games and throughout games. Calls are made, calls are missed, it happens. We just have to move on to the next one.”

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