Luke Walton isn’t going to let the officials rook him anymore. Following the Los Angeles Lakers 143-142 loss in overtime to the San Antonio Spurs, Walton started off the press conference by letting officials know that he’s tired of not having calls go the team’s way.
🎥 Luke Walton talks about the team's fight to come back and force overtime, and the impact of Johnathan Williams in his NBA debut pic.twitter.com/sWBR3fbbe6
— Los Angeles Lakers (@Lakers) October 23, 2018
Let me start here: Dave asked me about this pregame, and I wasn’t going to say anything, I was going to save my money, but I just can’t anymore. It’s 70 something points in the paint to 50 something. Again they outshoot us from the free-throw line. 38 free throws. Watch the play where I got a technical foul. Watch what happened to LeBron James’ arm. It’s the same thing that James Harden and Chris Paul shot 30 free throws on us for the night before.
He then goes on to talk about Josh Hart, who in 39 minutes off the bench was 8-14 from the field and 4-7 from three, did not receive a single shooting foul called on his behalf.
“Watch how Josh Hart plays this game. He played 40 minutes tonight, all he does is attack the rim; zero free throws tonight. Zero. So to me it doesn’t matter — I know they’re young, I get that, but if we’re 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 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.”
Walton will more than likely be fined by the league for his comments against the officiating, but he’s right to make the comments. Officiating in the NBA this year hasn’t been great, and the entire league has been upset with some of the calls. Walton was just the first to say something, but he won’t be the last. Also, a coach showing the team that he has its back will energize the players, and following a 0-3 start, the Lakers could use some energy going into Wednesday’s game against the Phoenix Suns.
Walton’s presser wasn’t only about officiating. He also had a few nice comments about Johnathan Williams, who played in his first NBA game tonight and scored eight points on 4-5 shooting, while also recording four rebounds and three blocks in just 14 minutes.
“That’s what we’ve seen from him since training camp started. It’s what made our staff look at really start to take a close look at him, because defensively he’s active and he’s really intelligent his communication for being a guy just trying to make camp, how much he talks during the drills and calling out coverages has been really impressive. Those are the things we saw and obviously we believe in our players. He was really, really good tonight down that stretch. I’m happy for him, but he was out there just playing basketball, making reads. He’s not afraid of the moment. First time out there he shot a 15-foot jump shot; that’s not his go to shot, but he’s confident with that. So, I was very happy and obviously he played very well tonight.”
Williams still has to work on a few things, as he had four personal fouls during his fourteen minutes, but in a depleted center rotation, he’ll be an interesting factor moving forward.