NBA disagrees with LeBron James and Lakers, supports calls made late in Game 2 loss

Nuggets center Nikola Jokic (15) goes up for a shot against Lakers forward LeBron James
Denver center Nikola Jokic goes up for a shot against Lakers forward LeBron James on Monday at Ball Arena. The Nuggets won the game 101-99 to take a two-game lead over the Lakers in their Western Conference playoffs series.
(Jack Dempsey / Associated Press)

The NBA endorsed the calls made by officials during the final two minutes of the Lakers’ 101-99 playoff loss to the Nuggets on Tuesday night.

LeBron James and the Lakers, who led by as many as 20 points in the third quarter, complained shortly after losing on a buzzer-beating shot by Denver’s Jamal Murray and falling behind 2-0 in the Western Conference playoff series.

Six takeaways from a Game 2 loss to the Nuggets in which the Lakers led by 20 points early in the third quarter. Game 3 is Thursday night at Arena.

April 23, 2024

In the two-minute report the league issues assessing officiating decisions made late in games, the sole error the NBA flagged was that Nikola Jokic should have been called for a defensive three-second violation with 1:53 left in the game and the Lakers leading 93-92. Jokic and the Nuggets clogged the passing lanes around Anthony Davis during the play. Austin Reaves missed a three-pointer late in the shot clock and Denver got the rebound.


James was perplexed when referees called him for a foul during a Murray drive with 57.1 seconds left. The Nuggets guard nailed both free throws to tie the score 97-97.

Afterward, some fans questioned why Lakers coach Darvin Ham didn’t use one of his challenges to contest the call and prompt a review. It’s unlikely he would have won the challenge.

The two-minute report stated James extended his forearm and initiated contact with Murray’s front, which affected his drive to the basket. “The illegal contact occurs prior to Murray’s gather and a non-shooting foul is correctly assessed,” the report read.

The Lakers’ blown lead against the Nuggets in Game 2 raises questions as to whether LeBron James is capable of saving the Lakers this season or ever again.

April 23, 2024

The NBA only publishes reports evaluating calls in the final two minutes of games and didn’t address other calls the Lakers protested.

Denver’s Michael Porter Jr. was called for a shooting foul on D’Angelo Russell late in the third quarter, only for the call to be overturned after a challenge by Nuggets coach Michael Malone. Crew chief Scott Foster announced over the public address system that Porter’s contact was “marginal.”

The Lakers disagreed.

“That’s a foul,” Russell tweeted after the game, “we all saw it on national television.”


James vented his frustration about the replay center that reviews contested calls.

“I don’t understand what’s going on in the replay center, to be honest. ... D-Lo 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 [like that]. It doesn’t make sense to me,” James said after the loss. “It makes no sense to me. It bothers me. ... And then I just saw what happened with the Sixers-Knicks game too. Like, what are we doing? ... It’s ... stupid.”

Ham told reporters after the game: “It’s tough, some tough calls, some tough non-calls. ... It’s getting real tricky. Go through the season, games being officiated one way and then getting the playoffs, and then it’s like, I guess it’s left up to the interpretation of the three individual guys that’s doing the job out there.

“But all that said, you just have to know that yeah, it stings.”