The Houston Rockets' upcoming matchup against the Los Angeles Lakers on January 29th is sure to be must-see TV. Sure, I know it'll be the fourth game between the two teams this season thanks to a very questionable schedule, but it's impossible to forget what happened in the last game.
Rockets coach Ime Udoka noticed the Lakers players, most notably LeBron James, griping about foul calls and told James to cut it out (in a much more colorful way), which the NBA's all-time scoring leader didn't appreciate.
The Lakers had won the battle of the whistle- 27 free throws to the Rockets' 18- but that wasn't good enough. They expected a foul call every time they felt there was contact.
Udoka likened this to the Lakers being a soft team during the post-game presser, which raised eyebrows. The data suggests that Udoka was onto something, as the Lakers easily won the whistle through the Rockets' three games, with a startling 75-52 disrepancy.
Even when the Rockets beat the Lakers, the Lakers had more free throws.
Other coaches around the league have expressed frustration with officiating during games against the Lakers, as Memphis Grizzlies coach Taylor Jenkins had to be restrained after a no-call against LeBron James, although James clearly struck Grizzlies big man Jaren Jackson Jr.
Postgame tirade proves Rockets coach Ime Udoka was right about the Lakers' officiating advantage.
Toronto Raptors coach Darko Rajakovic was even more colorful than Jenkins after the Raps lost a 132-131 heart-breaker to the Lakers on Tuesday.
Rajakovic had every reason to be upset, as the Lakers had 23 free throws in the fourth quarter and won the battle of the whistle 36 to 13. The Lakers had a 23-2 advantage at the charity stripe in the final period, which is insane.
There's a narrative that's been floating around that suggests the Raptors were intentionally fouling in the fourth quarter, which simply isn't true. However, even if that was the case, does that justify a 23-2 advantage at the foul line?
And especially considering that we know the Lakers have this advantage quite reguarly. Ime Udoka was right, and so was Rajakovic (and Taylor Jenkins).
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