After LeBron James missed two clutch free throws in overtime in the Lakers’ third straight loss of the young season, ESPN Stats & Info shared an interesting tidbit about the greatest player of his era.
Of course the ball is going to end up in LeBron’s hands at the ends of tight games, which means he’s going to get fouled more and therefore take more free throws. Of course it doesn’t take away from the fact that he’s the greatest player of his era. But: 48 percent from the line in these situations is a shockingly low percentage for a player this good, or any other NBA player. And last night, it may have cost the Lakers their first win of the season. After James (who, it must be said, hit the game-tying three in regulation) missed the free throws that might have put the Lakers up three, Patty Mills hit a jumper to put the Spurs back up by one with six seconds left.
On the other end, with the game in his hands, James missed the game-winning jumper.
“We had our chances. I mean, up six with a minute to go, less than a minute to go. Just couldn’t get a stop. We had a turnover in that minute, Rudy [Gay] hit a big shot from down one, I miss two free throws, which is unacceptable. They made a shot and missed a shot.”
This is the first time any LeBron team has started 0-3 since his second season with the Cavs in 2004, but he said that he’s not worried about it.
“I know what I got myself into,” James said. “It’s a process. I get it. We’ll be fine. I didn’t come here thinking we were going to be blazing storms right out the gate. It’s a process and I understand that. It’s frustrating not to get the win, but I’ve showered and I’m good now.”
Lakers coach Luke Walton seemed less “good” as he ripped the refs in post-match presser for the lopsided foul calls.
“70-something points in the paint to 50-something, again they outshoot us from the free throw line,” Walton said. “If we are going to play a certain way, let’s not reward people for flopping 30 feet from the hole on plays that have nothing to do with that possession. They’re just flopping just to see if they get a foul call. And then not reward players that are physically going to the basket and getting hit. It’s not right.”
The Spurs shot 28-of-38 from the line; the Lakers went just 18 for 26. Walton’s complaints echoed those of James, who said, “It’s just hard with the new rule changes. You literally can’t touch anybody.” Both could be right in arguing that the refs are unevenly enforcing the new freedom-of-movement emphasis to their team’s detriment, but the number of free throws is still of secondary importance to being able to actually make them.