Friday night at Staples Center was already going to be a parade to the free throw line: The Clipper average the most free throw attempts per game in the NBA (28.8) and the Thunder the third most (25.9).
The Thunder shot 26 free throws, right at their season average.
“It’s just bad officiating,” George said. “I’m sorry, just bad officiating. We don’t get a fair whistle. We haven’t gotten a fair whistle all year. … Somebody’s got to look into this. It’s getting out of hand, where we somehow just walk teams to the line. And there’s nobody that gets more contact. If I don’t speak for myself, I speak for Russ. There’s nobody that gets more contact than Russ going to the basket. And it’s just crazy.
“I don’t understand it. It’s a piece of s— being on that floor. We giving everything we got. We’re playing hard. We’re getting grabbed, we’re getting scratched, clawed, held, shoved. And there’s nothing for it. The officials just get to walk out, and there’s nothing that penalizes them for not officiating the game the right way.”
George should just get his checkbook out now and write a $25,000 one to the league.
Is there any team in the league that thinks they get a fair shake from the referees? Every player and coach thinks “officiating the game the right way” would lead to them getting a lot more calls, because every time they get bumped on a drive they think it’s a foul. Of course, they also think every time they bump an opponent on a drive to the basket they were in good defensive position and it’s just part of the game. That’s just part of being competitive.
The Thunder’s stars play an aggressive style — Russell Westbrook averaged 17.6 drives to the basket per game, third most in the NBA — and they attack in transition, with 19.1 percent of their possessions starting that way (third most in the league). That’s why they get the calls they do. They do not get as many as they would like, but again 29 other teams feel the same way.
The Clippers stars are aggressive, too. Williams and Gallinari are veterans who know how to draw fouls. With the Thunder on the second night of a road back-to-back, they may have been half-a-step out of the position they wanted to be, which led to some of the fouls. That’s just not how the Thunder will see it.
Tension has been up between the players and officials in recent years, and with the pressure — and increased number of close calls — about to come with the playoffs, it is only going to get worse.