LeBron James did not agree with the call against Lonzo Ball. And, in the end, neither did the refs.
With his team winning 122-119 and less than five seconds to play, Lakers guard Lonzo Ball reached in and fouled Thunder star Russell Westbrook. The referees, however, ruled Westbrook was in the shooting motion, which gave him three free throws.
Westbrook made all three shots, sending the game to overtime.
Afterward, referee Tom Washington explained the call to a pool reporter (via ESPN.com): “The official called the foul because at the time he thought Russell had started his shooting motion and he was clearly behind the 3-point line and there was illegal contact by Ball.”
Zo’s last second foul on Russ had Luke Walton baffled… pic.twitter.com/ZzRhiYULFf
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) January 18, 2019
James, the Lakers star, responded to the play on Twitter.
“So what really is ‘in the shooting motion’ rule?!?!?” James asked. “Asking for a friend @OfficialNBARefs.”
So what really is “in the shooting motion” rule?!?!? Asking for a friend @OfficialNBARefs 🤔
— LeBron James (@KingJames) January 18, 2019
The Lakers pleaded for the officials to consider a replay review on the play but didn’t get one.
“There is not a trigger to review whether or not there is a foul prior to or on the shot,” Washington told the pool reporter. “The trigger would be whether or not it is a 3-point shot or not. And upon being able to see the review of the play, we realized that the illegal contact actually happened prior to his upward motion, so it should have been a side-out.”
The missed call didn’t matter in the long run. The Lakers went on to win the game,138-128. They are 5-7 in James’ absence with a strained groin. He is expected to return to practice next week.