LeBron James blasts officiating, replay center after Lakers’ collapse, also calls out refs from different game

LeBron James had a lot to say about the officiating crew after the Lakers’ 101-99 loss to the Nuggets Monday night in Game 2 of their first-round playoff series. It was a game that looked like the Lakers were on pace to win, with dominating performances from Anthony Davis and D’Angelo Russell. But over the final five minutes of the game, Denver came alive, chipped away at what was once a 20-point L.A. lead, and eventually won the game on a Jamal Murray mid-range buzzer-beating jumper.

But James took issue with a play that happened in the third quarter, where Michael Porter Jr. was called for a foul on Russell, but after a coach’s challenge by Michael Malone was overturned.

“I don’t understand what’s going on in the replay center, to be honest,” James said. “[Russell] clearly gets hit in the face on a drive; what the f— do we have a replay center for if it’s going to go? It doesn’t make sense to me. Makes no sense to me. It bothers me.”

At the time of the foul, the Lakers were up 79-69 with 45 seconds left in the third quarter, but the Nuggets were in the midst of a 14-5 scoring run with momentum heading into the fourth quarter. Russell drove to the basket, and as he gathered to attempt a shot, Porter made contact with Russell’s face, which caused the officials to call a foul.

Michael Porter Jr. hit D’Angelo Russell in the face. MPJ was called for a foul which was then challenged.

Nuggets won the challenge.

Thought? 🤔pic.twitter.com/X01ufZXX4g

— ClutchPoints (@ClutchPoints) April 23, 2024
But Malone challenged the call, and crew chief Scott Foster said after the review that the contact was “marginal,” which then gave the Nuggets the ball back. After the game, Russell took to social media to share the same sentiment as James, writing, “That’s a foul we all saw it on national television.”

That’s a foul we all saw it on national television.

— D’Angelo Russell (@Dloading) April 23, 2024
But James didn’t stop at criticizing the officiating crew of his own game. He also pointed out officiating in the Knicks-76ers game, which also ended in controversy.

“Then I just saw what happened with the Sixers-Knicks game, too. What are we doing?” James said.

As James ended his press conference and got up to leave, he could be heard saying, “It’s f—ing stupid,” in regards to the officiating.

While the Lakers’ loss was gut-wrenching after it appeared they were in control for three quarters, the attention now turns to an incredibly important Game 3 on Thursday in Los Angeles. If the Lakers can’t win that game, it will be increasingly difficult to come back from a 3-0 deficit.

“Protect home,” James said. “That’s where my mindset goes. And obviously, the only game that matters now is Game 3 and how we can get better. How we can figure this team out. So, Game 3 is where my mindset is.”

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