Referees have to call games like they see them. Unfortunately for the Los Angeles Lakers, the officials didn't see Jayson Tatum foul LeBron James on a layup attempt in the final seconds of regulation Saturday night at TD Garden.
Tatum clearly hit James' left arm as James went up for a layup in a tie game, and had a foul been called, James could have iced the game with a free throw. Instead, the refs let the game go to overtime, where the Boston Celtics rallied for a 125-121 victory.
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The no-call was controversial enough to warrant a pool report after the game, and Crew Chief Eric Lewis actually admitted the officials' mistake.
Pool Reporter (Adam Himmelsbach of The Boston Globe): "It looked like there was contact on LeBron’s drive at the end of regulation. Why was there no foul call there and what did you see there?"
Eric Lewis: "There was contact. At the time, during the game, we did not see a foul. The crew missed the play."
It's rare for referees to openly admit mistakes, but this was a pretty obvious foul on Tatum. James threw an Oscar-worthy fit in the moment, while teammate Patrick Beverley even found a camera to show Lewis the evidence of contact on James (drawing a technical foul in the process).
Lewis also addressed the Beverley incident in the pool report.
Himmelsbach: "Why was Patrick Beverley assessed a technical foul at the end of regulation?"
Lewis: "His actions were inappropriate in addressing resentment to a non-call."
Himmelsbach: "It looked like he brought a camera out – was he trying to show you something?"
Lewis: "Yes, that was part of his inappropriate actions."
Beverly and a few other Lakers could face future discipline for their reactions and postgame comments; Anthony Davis deemed the no-call "bulls---" and "unacceptable," while Dennis Schroder suggested the officials themselves should be fined for failing to call the foul.
The Lakers have a bone to pick with the missed call, and Lewis' comments validate the sentiment that they were robbed of a win Saturday night. Then again, Los Angeles had several other opportunities to win Saturday's game and wouldn't have needed James' layup had Beverley not given Jaylen Brown an and-one with an ill-advised foul on the previous possession.
The Celtics also deserve credit for buckling down in overtime and putting their good luck to good use to snap a three-game losing streak.