The Los Angeles Lakers have presented a case to the NBA that LeBron James is not getting enough foul calls, according to Brad Turner of the Los Angeles Times. Statistically speaking, the Lakers have a legitimate argument. Through three games, James has attempted only 10 free throws. In Tuesday’s Game 3 loss, he had only two attempts after a flagrant foul by Jamal Murray.
James attempted a career-low 5.7 free-throws per game during the regular season, but that’s still nearly twice his average for this series despite playing more minutes. Over the first 10 games of the playoffs, he averaged 7.6 free-throw attempts per game, closer to his career regular-season (eight per game) and postseason (nine) averages. James hasn’t stopped attacking the basket in the Denver series. He’s attempted eight shots per game in the restricted area compared to 7.8 during the regular season.
“We’re dealing with the fouls through the proper channels with the league,” Frank Vogel told reporters after Wednesday’s practice. “I think he’s gone to the basket very aggressively, and I’ll just leave it at that.”
While the Lakers can justifiably argue on LeBron’s behalf, Denver has some reasonable gripes as well. The Lakers attempted nine more free-throws in Game 1, for instance, and that margin shrunk from double-digits largely in garbage time. The Lakers’ late comeback in Game 3 was keyed by some very physical defense, particularly by Rajon Rondo on a number of steals out of their zone defense.
Officiating is never entirely even. There is human error inherent in the process. But odds are. If LeBron James is attacking the basket as much as usual, he’s getting fouled as often as usual, and the numbers just haven’t reflected that so far in this series.