Referees favouring shooters, says James

CLEVELAND (Ohio) • LeBron James on Sunday hit out at National Basketball Association (NBA) referees after attempting just four free throws in the Cleveland Cavaliers' 110-94 loss to the San Antonio Spurs.

The NBA star alleged that officials are more inclined to protect players who shoot a lot of three-pointers and not players like him who like to drive to the basket.

"There's no reason I should be going to the line four times in a game when I drive 100 times to the paint and I'm getting hit and slapped and grabbed and whatever and what not," he said after flirting with a triple double by finishing with a game-high 33 points, 13 rebounds and nine assists. "We protect the shooter. That's what it's turned into."

According to ESPN, James drove to the rim 12 times against the Spurs.

Throughout his 15-year career, he is averaging 11.3 drives, according to ESPN Stats & Information, but just 6.0 free throw attempts per game - his lowest average since his rookie season (5.8).

San Antonio were called for 12 personal fouls - only three in the second half - and shot 32 free throws compared to 14 for Cleveland.

LaMarcus Aldridge led Spurs' offensive attack in the paint before finishing with 27 points.

Danny Green, who made five three-pointers, added 22 points at the Quicken Loans Arena.

San Antonio (36-25) remain without injured star Kawhi Leonard, who could be out for the rest of the season.

"Every win is a big one for us," Green said after they snapped a four-game losing skid.

"But this month we've had some ups and downs. This is a really good team, especially with the best player in the world over there."

Cleveland (35-24) dropped to 3-2 since overhauling their roster before the All-Star break with three trades.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 27, 2018, with the headline 'Referees favouring shooters, says James'. Print Edition | Subscribe