Lakers blame refs for blowing 20-point lead to Nuggets, and even their fans won’t buy it

The Los Angeles Lakers finally had a win over the Denver Nuggets in their grasp. Down 1-0 in their first round series in the 2024 NBA Playoffs, the Lakers walloped Denver in the first half, opening up a 20-point lead early in the third quarter.

Game over, right? Not quite. The Nuggets roared back in the second half behind another virtuoso performance from Nikola Jokic and some clutch fourth quarter shot-making from Jamal Murray. The final minutes of the fourth quarter were a frantic affair of holy sh*t moments that crescendoed with Jamal Murray’s picture-perfect buzzer-beater over Anthony Davis to win the game and give Denver a 2-0 series lead.

There were so many reasons Denver was able to storm back to win. LeBron James and Anthony Davis went entire possessions without touching the ball down the stretch as Taurean Prince and Spencer Dinwiddie hijacked the offense. Jokic was impossibly brilliant, hammering the Lakers inside with his own scoring while continually feeding Murray. Murray was terrible through the first three quarters, then popped off for 14 of his 20 points in the fourth.

After the game, the Lakers had a different explanation for why they lost: the refs screwed them over. Head coach Darvin Ham, LeBron James, and D’Angelo Russell all mentioned the refs after the game.

“Some tough calls, some tough non-calls,” Ham said after the game. “It’s getting real tricky. You go through the season and games being officiated one way. And then you get in the playoffs and it’s …. left open to interpretation.”

James referenced the wild ending of the Sixers-Knicks game in his post-game press conference as well, when Philadelphia believed it turned the ball over because of an uncalled foul at the end of the game. The Sixers are filing a grievance to the NBA over the officiating at the end of the game.

If the NBA really wanted to rig the Lakers-Nuggets series, wouldn’t they want the Lakers to win for more games and more drama? This one doesn’t pass the sniff test at all.

Russell also mentioned the refs after the game.

“Questionable calls really dictated a lot,” the Lakers guard said after the game. “We all saw it.”

Yes, there were a some questionable calls and non-calls that went against the Lakers in Game 2 against the Nuggets. That happens in every game and did not determine the outcome.

The Lakers have a right to be upset that the officials rescinded their foul after Michael Porter Jr. appeared to hit Russell in the face on a third quarter drive.

James had thoughts on that one, and he isn’t wrong:

James also begged for a call on a late clutch bucket. He didn’t get the and-one he was looking for:

The reality is that refs miss calls on both sides during the course of a game. The Lakers didn’t blow a 20-point lead because of poor officiating. They blew a 20-point lead because of poor coaching and poor execution, combined with the simple fact that the Nuggets are just better than them.

Even Lakers fans were rolling their eyes at their team complaining about the officials.

Even Magic Johnson is against the Lakers on this one!

The Lakers have enjoyed a huge free throw advantage over their opponents the last two full seasons. It didn’t happen in Game 2, as the Nuggets shot 17 free throws to the Lakers’ 13 free throw attempts.

Ultimately, that doesn’t really matter. What does is that the Lakers fumbled a golden opportunity to tie this series as it goes back to LA. They have no one to blame but themselves.

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