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LeBron James criticizes officiating in Cavaliers’ loss to Hawks

LeBron James, Paul Millsap

Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James (23) is defended by Atlanta Hawks forward Paul Millsap (4) in the first half of an NBA basketball game on Sunday, April 9, 2017, in Atlanta. The Hawks won in overtime 126-125. (AP Photo/Todd Kirkland)


Cavaliers coach Tyronn Lue called the Cavaliers’ loss to the Hawks on Sunday “stupid.”

If only he waited a couple days for perspective.

Cleveland lost again to Atlanta on Sunday, blowing a 26-point fourth-quarter lead.

LeBron James stewed after the game, taking issue with three specific calls down the stretch. All quotes via Joe Vardon of

On his five-second inbound violation with 18.7 seconds left in the fourth quarter:
“It was pretty quick,” James said of the five-second count.

On trying to call a timeout before Kyrie Irving got tied up with 4.9 seconds left in overtime:

“He told me that I’m not allowed to call timeout because he didn’t know who had possession of the ball,” James said, relaying what Richardson said to him. “And I was the one who entered the ball to Kyrie. And as soon as I seen Millsap go trap Kyrie in the short corner, I looked at him and called timeout twice -- at least twice -- and he wasn’t even paying me no attention. And that’s when the jump ball happened. I said, ‘Why?’ He said, ‘I can’t call timeout because I don’t know who has possession of the ball. I don’t know what’s going on. I don’t know the tie up.’ I said, ‘That doesn’t make any sense because we have the ball. I entered the ball to Kyrie so you shouldn’t even be worried about the tie up or not, I’m calling it as soon as I saw Kyrie is getting tied up in the corner.’

“So, I’ve never heard that one before. I’ve never heard that explanation before in my life.”

On fouling out with 1:52 left in overtime:
“Yeah, it wasn’t a foul on my sixth foul,” James said. “I knew I had five. I knew the ball was going long. So, I may have grazed Millsap a little bit but I mean, throughout the course of a game (that happens). I didn’t push him or anything like that.”

The five-second violation looked correct.

Irving was dribbling high to the point it wasn’t clear he possessed the ball, and obviously only the team with the ball can call timeout. I’m not sure how certain an official must be a team holds possession (100%? 51%?) to grant a timeout.

The sixth foul looked completely wrong to me, but I didn’t even see the grazing of Paul Millsap that LeBron copped to. So, I might not be the best judge.

By the way, Irving had a sensible response that clearly showed his dissatisfaction:

“How much is the fine for talking about the refs,” Irving began. “It’s like 50 (thousand dollars), 25 (thousand)? Not worth it. Not worth it, so, sorry. I had some good conversation with the refs. Just a few plays that didn’t go our way.