The Los Angeles Lakers presented a case to the NBA, claiming that LeBron James isn't getting the foul calls he should get. LeBron went to the free-throw line ten times throughout the first three games against the Nuggets - four times in the first two games, and two times in Game 3.
“We’re dealing with the fouls through the proper channels with the league. I think he’s gone to the basket very aggressively, and I’ll just leave it at that.”
Frank Vogel, LA Times
Here's what the numbers say - LeBron's averaged a career-low 5.7 free-throws per game during the regular season. He ramped up his paint presence and aggressiveness in the playoffs, with his average free throw attempts rising to 7.6 free-throw attempts per game. Simple math tells us James is averaging 3.3 free-throw attempts in the Nuggets series.
In Game 1 vs. the Nuggets – a Lakers blowout win – Los Angeles shot almost 10 more free throws than Denver (37-28), but since then things have changed. Game 2 the Nuggets had a big advantage (33-19), and they also shot more in Game 3 on Tuesday night (29-22).
Teams complaining to the NBA this way isn't uncommon and is another form of trying to get a competitive edge. This brings back memories of the Rockets blaming the refs for not making the Finals in '18. Yep, that's the 27 missed three-pointers in a row game.
If you forgot, the Rockets published a paper analyzing every missed call (according to them) and projecting the number of points "robbed" by those missed calls. Their conclusion was the errors in Game 7 resulted in 18.6 points of damage to the Rockets. That kind of report is not common and we hope never happens again. It was just one of the reasons why the Rockets are “the most despised franchise within NBA circles.”
When it comes to the Lakers' complaint, LeBron shooting only two free throws sounds a bit off. But overall, I'd say LeBron gets more than a good deal with the refs most of the time, and can't use them as an excuse for losing to the Nuggets.