NEW ORLEANS — Late in the Los Angeles Lakers’ 114-110 win over the New Orleans Pelicans in Anthony Davis’ homecoming Wednesday, LeBron James visited the ESPN broadcast table to express his disappointment with a call that was being reviewed.
With the Lakers leading the Pelicans 108-107 with 1:22 left in the fourth quarter, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope was called for a shooting foul on New Orleans forward Brandon Ingram.
With Caldwell-Pope throwing his hands up in disbelief at the whistle, Lakers coach Frank Vogel used his coach’s challenge to prompt the crew chief Zach Zarba to review the call.
While Zarba was examining the video, James approached ESPN NBA analyst Jeff Van Gundy courtside to share how incredulous he was with the review process.
“That’s a bad call,” James said, which was picked up on the game broadcast. “When the ref makes that call he don’t never want to be wrong. They’re never going to overturn it. Ever. Ever.”
Sure enough, the call was upheld, costing the Lakers their final timeout and awarding Ingram two free throws that he made to put the Pelicans back up by one.
From there, the Lakers finished the game on a 6-1 run to win and improve their league-best record to 16-2.
When asked about the referee’s ruling after the game, Vogel sidestepped judgment.
“I don’t see the replays like they do, so I’ll have to trust them, but we’ll see,” he said.
This season, the first in which a coach’s challenge has existed in the NBA, only 39% (52 of 134) of called fouls on the court have been overturned or changed to a non-foul or a foul on the other team, according to ESPN Stats & Information data.
It was the second time James had the refs in his aim on the Lakers’ 4-0 road trip. After he attempted zero free throws despite taking 27 field goal attempts — 16 of which were in the lane — in Memphis, he challenged how he was being officiated and Vogel vowed to contact the league.
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