Frank Vogel should find his checkbook. He will be getting a call from the league office soon.
The Lakers coach didn’t hold back when discussing the officiating crew’s performance in Game 5 of the NBA Finals. The Heat narrowly escaped with a 111-108 win Friday night to extend the series, and Jimmy Butler earned plenty of praise following a 35-12-11 triple-double in 47 minutes of play.
Vogel told reporters the referees gifted Butler a few points with some generous whistles late in the fourth quarter. Vogel felt fouls called on both Markieff Morris and Anthony Davis with less than a minute remaining should have been “play on” situations.
“I felt two bad calls at the end put Butler to the line, and that’s unfortunate in a game of this magnitude,” Vogel said. “Anthony Davis has perfect verticality, and it should be a play on. And the time before that, Markieff Morris has his hand on the ball. That should be a play on. They were given four free throws and made it an uphill battle for us.
“Very disappointed in that aspect of the game, but our group’s fine. We’re going to bounce back strong. We’ll have a better performance in Game 6.”
The design on this play was good but the screen from Jae Crowder was key. Was the inbounder and screened for Jimmy Butler. Notice how he set it flat, Butler could go either way. Morris jumps out on the wrong side, Butler able to turn the corner and draw a foul. pic.twitter.com/yMnyFCUDmB
— Steve Jones Jr. (@stevejones20) October 10, 2020
When asked about the Davis foul, LeBron James thought Davis had good defensive positioning, but it didn’t seem to bother him as much as Vogel.
“I thought AD made a heck of a play at the rim,” James said. “I felt he was chest to chest with Jimmy, making him change the trajectory of his shot, and the call didn’t go our way. I felt like at that point in time, it was a tough call, but they made the call. We still had an opportunity to win.
“But we felt like with AD, with him at the rim and him contesting things like that, we felt like it could have swayed our way. But it didn’t.”
James is absolutely right about the Lakers having an opportunity to win the title. After Butler hit two free throws to give the Heat a one-point lead with 16.8 seconds left, James found Danny Green for a wide-open look at the top of the key. He missed short, and Markieff Morris corralled the offensive rebound only to fire the ball out of bounds.
Vogel may not be happy with the calls, but the fact is the Lakers allowed Butler to get into the paint and put defenders in bad positions. On the Morris foul, Butler split two Lakers and got his body into Morris. On the Davis foul, the Lakers failed to communicate on a screen and gave Butler a free runway to the rim.
Plus, Vogel didn’t have a challenge left because he used it earlier in the game on a James offensive foul that had no real chance of being overturned, and Los Angeles blew multiple chances to close it out.
This was an incredible Finals battle, and it will be remembered for the haymakers being thrown back and forth by Butler and James, not a couple calls that weren’t even particularly egregious. On to Game 6.