Refs Bailout Lakers, Beat Shorthanded Suns


An Uncle Rico Production

“You’ve got Kevin Durant? No problem. We’ve got the 6th Man.”

In another disgusting play by NBA refs, the Los Angeles Lakers were aided last in the closing seconds of the West Quarterfinals of the NBA’s new money-maker, the “In-Season Tournament”, helping them beat the short-handed Phoenix Suns 106-103. The #1 seed LA Lakers advance to the West Semifinals to play #3 seed New Orleans Pelicans.

During a pivotal moment in their game against the Phoenix Suns, the Los Angeles Lakers the referees granted LeBron James a timeout during a contentious loose ball situation. And by contentious, I mean the Suns had the ball, under their hoop, and were about to score the tying points.

But NBA refs are NBA refs; the most crooked of all sports. And once again, NBA referees decided to inject themselves into the morning headlines by favoring one player……one franchise……over the other.

The call helped oust the #4 seed Suns from the NBA’s In-Season Tournament & benefited the #1 seed Lakers; a historic franchise headlined by Lebron James. I won’t delve into what he means to the NBA globally from a financial perspective, but look up his comments defending Chinese internment/slave labor camps for Uyghurs. For an organization plastering “Black Lives Matter” over everything in view of a camera, you would think the one “no-no” the NBA & it’s top players would have is supporting slavery.


Guess not.

The blasphemy unfolded after the Lakers initiated play from the baseline with 11.2 seconds left, leading the Suns 105-103. James passed the ball to Austin Reaves, following a Kevin Durant bucket that narrowed the Lakers’ lead to two points. Devin Booker blanketed Reaves on the ensuing inbound pass, causing him to mishandle the ball. A keen Kevin Durant saw this and immediately aided Book with a double-team, causing Reaves to panic & lose the ball, to which Suns SG Grayson Allen picked it up.  

At this point, James, near the sideline, began frantically pestering NBA referee Tom Washington for a timeout, despite the Lakers not having possession of it. So naturally, in another glorious display of NBA refs & “New York” (think “whenever they “clarify” plays under review”; that’s who they are actually on the phone with), instead of ignoring Lebron & making the correct call, Washington caved to the demands of his bosses. That would be Lebron James & NBA Commissioner Adam Silver. 

The Suns’ coaching staff sought clarification from Washington during the break, but the decision stood, as the call was conveniently “not subject to video review or reversal”. So splendid. So crafty.

Had the timeout not been erroneously called, Suns’ Grayson Allen would’ve found a cutting Booker under the basket for an easy game-tying layup. This may have changed the game’s outcome. Instead, the Lakers maintained control, the Suns intentionally fouled Anthony Davis, and he hit a free throw to increase their lead 106-103.

Although, the Suns still had a chance. Just enough to make some fans forget about the horrendous call a play before.


The Suns were able to gather the rebound after Davis missed his second free throw, but with no time outs, they couldn’t set up a play. As a result, Durant played his hot hand & heaved a last-second three-point attempt which missed the iron, resulting in an L for the Suns, and a 106-103 victory for the Lakers.

Postgame, crew chief Josh Tiven explained to reporters that upon reviewing the footage, Reaves magically did have control of the ball (it was apparently pinned against his leg, we just couldn’t see it). 

Booker’s rebuttal to this was fantastic. He pulled out a screenshot of the incident trending on Instagram. He also expressed his frustration, emphasizing the need for fairness in officiating. The Suns & specifically Booker have never received the classic NBA “Superstar Treatment” that other teams have enjoyed. Even when they were the #1 team in the league, playing in the NBA Finals, with Booker as an MVP candidate, the Suns continuously get the shaft from NBA refs. 

Suns coach Frank Vogel criticized the decision, pointing out the inconsistency in the game’s review system. He also expressed his disappointment with the lack of review for such crucial moments.

The incident added seemingly unexpected controversy to the NBA’s attempt to create “an exciting fan experience” with its new In-Season Tournament, and they did just that. 


Now, this isn’t me saying that the Lakers didn’t ball, nor did the Suns help themselves by turning the ball over about a bajillion times (22, to be exact), but let’s be real for a sec. This outcome was absolutely anticipated by The League & its Commissioner Adam Silver. 

If you think for one moment Silver didn’t orchestrate this outcome, you need to stop sniffing paint. He absolutely told the refs to call the game in favor of the Lakers, in effort to aid their advancement into the Semifinals. After all, the NBA is still trying to recoup that lost revenue from their COVID-19 “Bubble Season.” 

That’s all this in season tournament is; a money-maker. And what better for its first ever tournament than to have the NBA’s most historic franchise (sorry Boston) with its most recognizable star (sorry, everyone else) with games hosted in one of the biggest basketball markets?

Ummm……nothing. There is no better financial outcome.

The Championship will be played in Vegas on a neutral-court, so the semis are the last opportunity for the NBA to cash in on a home venue, and what better venue than the “House That Kobe Built”?

There isn’t.

So, kudos to you, NBA brass. Once again, you highlighted your shadiness. And once again, I tuned in.

My question to the audience is this:

Am I just being a HOMER, or did the refs actually throw this game?

Feel free to answer in the comment section below, or hit us up on: 

Twitter: @BleacherBrother

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