LOS ANGELES — A no-call on the Dallas Mavericks‘ Tim Hardaway Jr.’s defense on Troy Brown Jr.’s 3-point attempt at the end of regulation left L.A. in a foul mood Thursday night in the Lakers’ eventual 119-115 double-overtime loss to the Mavs.
The Lakers stormed back from a 19-point first-quarter deficit to tie it in the fourth when LeBron James found Brown on the right wing for a potential game-winning 3 at the buzzer. Hardaway contested the shot and made contact with Brown’s shooting hand and the ball at the point of release, causing the shot to fall well short of the basket.
James and Brown immediately expressed their frustration with the outcome of the play to referee Suyah Mehta, who was the closest official to the action.
Crew chief Josh Tiven, speaking to a pool reporter after the game, defended the no-call.
“Hardaway Jr. gets a piece of the ball on the closeout and then does make some high-five contact, which is legal and that play was correctly no-called,” Tiven said.
Brown was asked about the no-call in the postgame locker room and offered a diplomatic response.
“It is what it is,” Brown said. “That’s not my job to ref, and I’m not gonna sit here and decide who should have did what.”
When a reporter followed up to inform Brown of Tiven’s explanation, James — seated in front of his locker on the other side of the room — chimed in from 20 feet away.
“No, it’s a f—ing foul,” James said strongly for everyone in the room to hear. “It’s a foul. No matter what [Brown] says, it’s a f—ing foul. That s— is blatant, and they should have called it.”
Fifteen minutes later, in his postgame news conference down the hall, James was more reserved in his answer. When asked if he disagreed with the referees’ decision, he simply said, “Obviously.”
Lakers coach Darvin Ham also disagreed with the referees’ assessment of the play.
“I’m not one to blame the officiating, and I won’t start now. But it just looked clear as day like it was a foul,” Ham said. “Maybe I can be wrong. But we were still watching it after the game, and it looked like a foul on his follow-through.”
L.A. was outscored 18-14 in the two overtime sessions, shooting a combined 5-for-17 from the field.
James finished with 24 points, 16 rebounds, nine assists and two steals in 47 minutes, but shot 9-for-28 overall and 0-for-7 from 3-point range, including 0-for-4 from deep in the extra sessions.
The Lakers weren’t the only ones to have problems with the officiating, however. Mavericks owner Mark Cuban tweeted during the game, agreeing with TNT analyst Stan Van Gundy’s opinion that Luka Doncic was not getting enough calls.
Stan van gundy is absolutely right. Worst officiated game. Luka gets no respect. Unreal.
— Mark Cuban (@mcuban) January 13, 2023
Doncic finished with 35 points, 14 rebounds and 13 assists but was called for five fouls, while only attempting seven free throws.
“I didn’t see it, I don’t have Twitter,” Doncic said with a wry smile, when asked about Cuban’s tweet.
When asked again about the tweet, Doncic Euro-stepped right around the question.
“I have no comments on that,” he said. “I don’t want to get fined.”
ESPN’s Tim MacMahon contributed to this report.