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Portland frustrated by free throw disparity in Game 3 loss

Portland free throw

LAKE BUENA VISTA, FLORIDA - AUGUST 09: Damian Lillard #0 of the Portland Trail Blazers reacts to an official against the Philadelphia 76ers during the second quarter at Visa Athletic Center at ESPN Wide World Of Sports Complex on August 09, 2020 in Lake Buena Vista, Florida. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

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Those numbers bothered the Portland Trail Blazers almost as much as 116-108 after their Game 3 loss to the Los Angeles Lakers Saturday night, putting Portland behind 2-1 in the series.

That top number is the free throw disparity in Game 3: The Lakers took 43, Portland just 19. Los Angeles took a dozen more free throw attempts in the first half (31) than Portland got all game.

In the NBA the aggressive team usually gets the calls, and LeBron James, in particular, was very aggressive and playing downhill Saturday night, and he got to the line 17 times by himself. Anthony Davis has drawn fouls against overmatched Portland defenders all series and he had another 14.

But the Blazers felt they were aggressive in Game 3 as well (unlike Game 2), they just didn’t get the calls. They were frustrated.

Coach Terry Stotts postgame (via NBC Sports Northwest):

“As far as the free throw differential, particularly at halftime it was — I don’t know if I’ve ever been in a game where it was that big. It certainly had an impact on the first half… That had an impact on the game.”

Damian Lillard:

“When a team is living at the free throw line like they did tonight as a team, it’s going to be hard to win a game against a team that’s as good as they are.”

The Trail Blazers are engaging in the time-honored NBA tradition of trying to influence the referees for the next game in their postgame comments. Just put it in the referees’ ears that they felt slighted, then hope for a break or two next game.

The problem for Portland is that they don’t have defenders who can slow LeBron and Davis, they do not have good matchups for them. Gary Trent Jr. is working hard against LeBron, but he is just not big enough or strong enough to keep LeBron from getting to his spots. Davis is a matchup nightmare for every team. And when those two are aggressive and attacking, the rest of the Lakers follow.

Portland is just trying to get a few more calls next game. It’s all part of trying to win a tight series.