The National Basketball Umpire Association announced Sunday that LeBron James was fouled on the last play of regulation in the Los Angeles Lakers’ game against the Boston Celtics.
The NBA office also conceded for the second time that the foul should have been called.
“Like everyone else, referees make mistakes,” the union wrote in a tweet. Play will be heavy and you will have sleepless nights as you strive to be the best referee.”
In Saturday night’s tied game in Boston, James got the ball about 35 feet from the basket with 4.1 seconds remaining. He split two defenders as he entered the lane, got airborne and also passed Jayson Tatum.
James placed the ball with his left hand, Tatum clearly touched James’ shooting arm, the foul was not called and the game went into overtime. Had the foul been called, James would have had the opportunity to lead the Lakers with 1.8 seconds remaining and the free throw he would have been on the line.
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The Celtics won 125-121 after overtime.
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“Honestly, I was cheated tonight….unacceptable,” Lakers forward Anthony Davis said after the game.
NBA admitted the foul should have been called immediately after the game — “There was contact. Lewis told Poole reporters — and reaffirmed it in Sunday’s report detailing calls made and missed in the final two minutes of regulation and overtime.
The Lakers entered the Western Conference 23-27 on Sunday the 13th, just two games behind the final play-in spot and four games behind the fourth-placed Los Angeles Clippers. But the Lakers have spent virtually the entire season outside the playoffs.
After Saturday’s game, James said, “We have no room for error.” And it’s one of the best games we’ve played all year. It’s silly to do that. It’s silly.”
Neither James nor Davis will play in the Lakers’ next game in Brooklyn on Monday, according to the team. Injuries are the cause. James has left his ankle sore and Davis continues to deal with a stress injury in his right leg.
James reacted with impeccable animation after a mis-call on Tatum’s play, quickly pointing his arm and eventually falling onto the court, resting on his knee and elbow when he tried to grip without a foul being called. .
Lakers guard Patrick Beverly brought cameras onto the court during the ensuing stoppage to show Lewis images of the contact. Beverly fouled him technically and the Celtics freed his throw to put him into overtime with a 106–105 lead.
It’s at least the fourth time in recent weeks that the Lakers have felt a late-game call led to a loss.
“I don’t think it’s happened to anyone else,” James said. “It’s just weird.”
Lakers coach Durbin Ham added: