Summary List PlacementThe NBA may soon be hearing from the Denver Nuggets about the foul disparity in the Western Conference Finals, just days after hearing from the Los Angeles Lakers.
The Lakers took a 3-1 lead in the series on Thursday night, helped, in part, by a 35-23 free throw disparity. LeBron James and Anthony Davis combined to shoot 28 free throws.
The increased trips to the line come just days after Lakers head coach Frank Vogel said the team was going through the “proper channels” to point out missed foul calls.
“We’re dealing with the fouls through the proper channels with the league,” Vogel told reporters on Wednesday. “I think [James has] gone to the basket very aggressively, and I’ll just leave it at that.”
After the Nuggets lost Game 4, head coach Mike Malone said the Nuggets might also have to go through the “proper channels,” seemingly taking a jab at Vogel and the Lakers.
“They went to the foul line 35 times,” said Malone. “I think I’m going to have to go through the proper channels like they did to see if we can figure out how we can get some more free throws.”
Malone pointed out that Nuggets guard Jamal Murray drove to the basket several times late in the game and did not receive foul calls, despite there appearing to be contact.
“I think late in the game Jamal Murray attacked the basket a few times where it appeared to be contact. We’ll watch the film and send our clips in. We’ll reach out to the NBA and kind of make our points noted. Whether them going through the proper channels affected tonight or not, I have no idea. The NBA does a great job of listening. You hope that next game maybe some of those fouls are called.”
Murray was more diplomatic about the disparity, saying the Nuggets will have to earn the calls going forward.
“I mean, I did get fouled on a few. We could see the replay clearly,” Murray told reporters, adding: “But we just have to look ahead and play through it … We’re a young team. We’re the younger team, youngest team, whatever we are. Look at where we’re at. We’re going to have to earn their respect if we’re going to want to prevail.”
While TNT analysts Reggie Miller and Chris Webber on Thursday’s broadcast mocked the Lakers for griping about foul calls to the league, it’s not a new circumstance. Teams send in footage throughout the season to point out missed calls or disparities in calls. In 2019, the Houston Rockets wrote a detailed report outlining missed calls they felt robbed them of the chance to beat the Golden State Warriors in the 2018 Western Conference Finals.
Of course, for all of the talk about free throws, the Nuggets were also out-rebounded 41-33, including giving the Lakers 12 offensive rebounds that turned into 25 second-chance points. Malone said the rebounds were the “reason we lost this game.”
The Nuggets have twice come back from 3-1 series deficits this postseason. They face a more daunting task against a Lakers team that has arguably been the best in the playoffs. Extra free throws in Game 5 could help the Nuggets come closer to pulling off another comeback.
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