Call it deja vu for the Lakers, who have had to pay far more attention to the release of the Last Two Minute report this past week than they probably want. On Friday, the Lakers found out that a crucial no-call at the end of overtime that could have won them a game against the Mavericks was missed after Christian Wood ducked LeBron James’ potential game-winning layup. LA eventually dropped that game in double OT.
Fast forward to Sunday night, and the Lakers found themselves in a similar situation. The 76ers were up 113-112 and the Lakers had the final possession with a chance to win it. Russell Westbrook decided to take Joel Embiid one-on-one, but when he released the shot after driving to the rim, the ball was never even in the goal, hitting the entire backboard before the Sixers put the ball in the goal as the buzzer sounded. After the game, Westbrook was adamant that Embiid was chasing him, saying “I couldn’t get my hand up to shoot because [Embiid] grabbed it.”
Embiid disagreed with Westbrook’s assessment of the final play.
“I don’t think I molested him,” Embiid said. “Physical play on both sides. You could have called a foul on the other end as well, on the bump. So it goes both ways.”
While both players have their own version of the play, the NBA’s official final two-minute report released Monday states that the officials did not call Embiid a foul, saying “Embiid extends his arm slightly before pulling it back and marginal arm contact occurs with Westbrook during the game. attempt to run shots.” You can see in the video where Embiid makes contact with Westbrook’s wrist, but the league agrees with how the game was called that there was not enough contact to warrant a foul.
Although Westbrook felt Embiid hounded him on that play, he made it clear he knows the game didn’t come down to just the final possession.
“I know the game didn’t come down to the last shot, I’ve been in this league a long time, there’s a lot of possession in this game.” Westbrook said. “Go ahead, ready for tomorrow.”
It’s the second straight game in which the Lakers had an opportunity to win it but couldn’t do it, and the third game in the last four where the final score was decided by five points or less. The loss to the Sixers puts the Lakers on a three-game losing streak, as they currently sit in 13th place in the Western Conference with 1.5 games separating them from the final playoff spot.