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Lakers' Ham rues 'inconsistency' of refs in loss to Suns

Barry Gossage / National Basketball Association / Getty

Los Angeles Lakers head coach Darvin Ham decried what he felt were officiating discrepancies after his team shot just eight free throws but allowed 19 in Sunday's 123-113 loss to the Phoenix Suns.

"That's something we focus on, trying to win the free-throw line every game," Ham told reporters postgame, including ESPN's Dave McMenamin. "And so that's tough. I'm telling my guys to drive downhill; we're trying to love and live in the paint. And you're not getting calls.

"I see guys with their hands in our guys' ribs or swinging, swiping at their heads, trying to block the shot but not getting the ball, but getting a piece of the body. And it's not being called, as simple as that. So, we have to figure out ways to not let that be a problem, but it's tough. Again, it's frustrating when there's so much inconsistency."

Save for LeBron James, nobody on the Lakers mustered more than two free-throw attempts, and even James had only one make in four trips to the line.

Forward Royce O'Neale was the only member of the Suns' starting lineup to not appear at the charity stripe, where Kevin Durant, Jusuf Nurkic, and Devin Booker combined to shoot 14-of-15.

Prior to Sunday, Los Angeles hadn't shot fewer than 13 free throws in a game all season, which it did twice.

The Lakers tend to be on the other end of complaints regarding free-throw disparities. The most recent high-profile instance came on Jan. 9 when Toronto Raptors head coach Darko Rajakovic blasted referees for awarding L.A. 23 more free throws than his side in a one-point loss.

However, James said Sunday the Lakers' usually high free-throw totals are a result of their aggressive playing style. He added the officials missed calls against Phoenix that should have sent him to the line.

"A lot of people, a lot of coaches, a lot of teams are like, 'That's all the Lakers do is get to the free-throw line,'" James said, per McMenamin. "It's like this narrative out there that that's all we do is get to the free-throw line. I mean, we have attackers. That's what we do. We have attackers. Yeah, we shoot the ball from the perimeter, but we're not shooting 40-50 threes a game. We're not that team. We don't have the luxury of being that team. So, working it into the paint, that's what we're really good at.

"To have eight free throw attempts is definitely not us."

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