It has become such a rite of passage in NBA lore for the losing team to complain about fouls that lead to free throws, a cause taken up to draw attention to the issue.
And so it was for the Lakers after losing Game 5 of the NBA Finals to the Miami Heat on Friday night, with coach Frank Vogel expressing his displeasure with two calls that went against his team when the outcome hung in the balance and that both times led to Jimmy Butler shooting free throws.
The Lakers had a one-point lead when Markieff Morris was called for fouling Butler with 46.7 seconds left. Butler made both to give the Heat a one-point lead.
The Lakers had recaptured the lead, going up 108-107. But on Miami’s next possession, Anthony Davis was called for a foul on Butler, who made both free throws for a 109-108 Heat lead with 16.8 seconds left his team never surrendered again.
“I felt two bad calls at the end put Butler to the line,” Vogel said after his team saw its lead in the best-of-seven series trimmed to 3-2. “That’s unfortunate in a game of this magnitude. Anthony Davis has a perfect verticality. That should be a play-on. And the time before that, Markieff Morris has his hand on the ball. That should be a play-on.
"They were given four free throws and make it an uphill battle for us. So, very disappointed in that aspect of the game. But our group is fine. We’re going to bounce back strong. We’ll have a better performance in Game 6 and we got to play better for the 48 minutes leading up to that last minute.”
LeBron James echoed his coach.
“A couple of questionable calls that swayed their way, put Jimmy to the free-throw line,” James said. “Obviously we can’t do that. He’s been damn-near perfect at the free throw-line in the series.
Heel injury crops up again
He had a brief scare when Heat forward Andre Iguodala accidently kicked Davis in the right heel with 48 seconds left in the first quarter, re-aggravating a bruise he had suffered in the Western Conference finals against the Denver Nuggets.
The 6-10 Davis was prone of the floor for several minutes while his concerned teammates gathered around him on the baseline. He eventually got up and took a seat on the bench, but Davis did return to play and indicated he will play in Game 6 on Sunday at the AdventHealth Arena on the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex near here.
“Ugh, Iggy kind of stepped on it,” Davis said on a videoconference late Friday night. “He aggravated it, but I’ll be fine Sunday.”
Davis finished Game 5 with 28 points, 12 rebounds, three blocks and three steals in 42 minutes.
“He was just battling through the heel,” Vogel said. “He was struggling to move a little bit, but toughed it out, and we’ll see how he feels tomorrow.”
This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.