In a high-scoring affair in Phoenix, the Suns initiated a commanding performance with a 45-point first quarter, ultimately securing a 123-113 victory over the Los Angeles Lakers. Lakers’ head coach Darvin Ham expressed his dissatisfaction with the game’s officiating, particularly highlighting the disparity in free throw opportunities between the two teams.

The Lakers were limited to a mere eight free throw attempts during the game, a season-low that ties the least number of attempts since LeBron James joined the team. Notably, the Lakers were not awarded any free throws in the second half, whereas the Suns made 19 trips to the free throw line at the Footprint Center.

LeBron James, despite leading his team with 28 points, struggled from the free-throw line, making only one of four attempts. Austin Reaves was the only other Laker to attempt more than one free throw, with D’Angelo Russell and Rui Hachimura each taking a single shot from the line. Anthony Davis, despite a solid performance of 22 points and 12 rebounds, did not visit the free throw line, marking a first for the season and a rare occurrence in his career for games where he has played at least 40 minutes.

While Ham’s forthright critique of the officials might lead to a fine from the NBA, LeBron James chose to respond with laughter when questioned about the officiating. The Lakers faced other challenges beyond free throw discrepancies; the Suns exhibited sharp shooting, maintaining over 47% from the field, and had all five starters scoring at least 18 points each. Kevin Durant and Devin Booker led the Suns with 22 and 21 points, respectively, while Jusuf Nurkic was close to achieving a triple-double.

Following this defeat, the Lakers’ season record drops to 31-28, with two losses in their last three games post-All-Star break. The team looks to rebound in their upcoming game against the Los Angeles Clippers. Despite the frustration with the officiating, Ham acknowledges that the Lakers need more than just free-throw opportunities to overcome their current challenges and return to winning ways.



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