The expanded universe of the Memphis Grizzlies was not satisfied with the officiating performance in Friday night’s 115-105 loss against the Los Angeles Lakers at Staples Center.
By the end of the second quarter, an Oscar-worthy (or maybe Razzie-worthy) flop from LeBron James plunged the Fox Sports Southeast broadcast team and #GrizzliesTwitter into a collective tizzy.
Here’s how the exchange between a stunned Memphis broadcaster, Pete Pranica and Brevin Knight went after seeing a replay of James’ packed theater:
Knight: Are you serious?
Pranitsa: Oh, my God.
Knight: Are you kidding me? This is getting out of hand. This is getting out of hand.
Pranitsa: That’s the worst thing that can happen.
Knight: It’s terrible, horrible, all the other words that come to mind that are synonymous with those words, that’s how it was.
The Grizzlies show is fed up with LeBron James photo flop on twitter.com/Of4YhjON60
– ClutchPoints (@ClutchPointsApp) 13. February 2021
Famed Grizzlies commentator and podcaster Chris Vernon also expressed outrage at the referee’s performance (throughout the game).
Free throws, 29-8 Lakers. Yes, of course. Not a word about the referees all season. That was ridiculous. Look at the numbers and tell me the difference pic.twitter.com/I4p0TL7rmQ
– Chris Vernon (@ChrisVernonShow) February 13, 2021
It’s true: She was the king’s whore. The defending champions had 14 more free throws than Memphis (33-19) and the Grizzlies were whistled for nine more fouls (25-16). As Fastbreak Breakfast noted, the Grizz conceded six of the Lakers’ eight fouls in the second and third periods, while Los Angeles took 26 penalty attempts with 19 whistles against Memphis.
Part of the frustration of the Grizzlies faithful is due to the fact that their team gradually built a 22-2 lead in the first quarter. It’s also far from the first time the Lakers have been accused of getting preferential treatment, albeit with knowledge.
But do the complaints of Grizz fans really deserve attention?
James has a personal history of series flops, including recent encounters with Memphis.
LeBron with the oscarized flop pic.twitter.com/NS88rkj7QZ
– Josiah Johnson (@KingJosiah54) March 1, 2020
In defense of James, the vast majority of players in all sports are guilty of misleading referees with a potential advantage. Given the number of calls he doesn’t get because of his size and strength (aka the Shaq effect), he can’t be blamed for shamelessly embellishing his contacts from time to time.
For Frank Vogel, whistling was one of the highlights of recent times. After 27 games, Los Angeles committed the seventh fewest personal fouls in the league (Memphis ranks ninth), a sign of the champion’s discipline. (Of course, their high-level defense will underscore this as well).
Last Saturday, Vogel announced that players who make a three-point error will get the next day off (Wesley Matthews got a Saturday off against Memphis).
Here’s the full quote from Frank Vogel on how he encouraged the Lakers to run fouls on three pic.twitter.com/nFNWxCoPM7
– Harrison Feigen (@hmfaigen) February 7, 2021
Additionally, the Lakers are third in number of fouls this season, while Memphis is in last place.
Grizz fans might not accept it, but Friday was not exactly game six of the 2002 Western Conference finals. Switching is a common trend for the Lakers in 2021, and they’ve done it again. Los Angeles visibly upped the ante midway through the third quarter with a 25-2 score, led by LeBron in the best game of the night.
Third step to the buzzer!
Source is in the pic.twitter.com/RJ6wUOI5Dp zone.
– ESPN (@espn) February 13, 2021
Of course, this match was helped by seven set-pieces, but the Lakers aggressively forced the play in this match and the Grizzlies suddenly seemed to want to turn things around. Memphis gave the ball away nine times in the third quarter, which Los Angeles won 41-23.
Unlike the Lakers, who lost to the Golden State Warriors in January and in October in Game 5 of the NBA Finals, neither a Grizzlies player nor coach Taylor Jenkins spoke about the referees in their post-game comments.
In fact, it’s usually the Lakers who express their displeasure with the referees. Denver Nuggets head coach Michael Malone reprimanded the Lakers for complaining to the NBA about rule interpretation that forced the Lakers to make 35 free-throw attempts in Game 4 of the Western Conference finals.
L.A. dominated Memphis 60-37 on the glass and scored another 12 points in the paint (58-46) – though Memphis fans can blame that on a poor combination of whistles, as Ja Morant (7-8 FT) and company attacked the paint pretty aggressively. Finally, the Lakers didn’t really take advantage of their problems, missing 10. Memphis scored a charity goal at 3:19.
In the end, the Lakers would have to beat a Grizzlies team of nine active players with 10 points on each side. If Los Angeles hadn’t continued its trend of frighteningly slow starts and ice-cold 3-pointers (6 from 30), the Lakers wouldn’t have needed 3.5 quarters to get off the floor.
By narrowing the gap, the Lakers became the third team in the last 25 years to win back-to-back games by at least 20 points. Los Angeles won seven games in a row, despite the fact that it took four extensions and a couple of late goals to win against some out-of-control lottery teams.
Most importantly, Anthony Davis came back after missing two games with a sore hamstring tendon (to be exact, just above him) and dominated, scoring 35 points on 16 of 27 attempts. James showed his usual brilliance, leading the talkative Dillon Brooks to 28 points, nine rebounds and eight steals.
Lakers win, mortality pic.twitter.com/HUMtJHEJ9R
– Michael Corvo (@_michaelcorvo_) February 13, 2021
The Lakers got another successful performance from Kyle Kuzma with 20 points, 10 rebounds and lightning fast play.
Morant had 22 points and 10 assists on shots 7-18, while Grayson Allen led the way with 23 points. Jonas Valanciunas added 22 points and eight rebounds, most of them in the first half.
The 2002 Sacramento Kings have the right to hold a grudge against the NBA and certain officials for their treatment of the Lakers on numerous occasions. The 2021 Grizzlies – or rather, their fans and supporters – do not.