Controversial Raptors Coach Furious at Officiating Disparity in Lakers Win

LOS ANGELES (AP) – The Toronto Raptors’ head coach, Darko Rajakovic, expressed strong criticism towards the officiating following the team’s close 132-131 loss to the Los Angeles Lakers on Tuesday night. Rajakovic denounced the significant free throw disparity between the two teams, with the Lakers attempting 23 free throws in the fourth quarter alone compared to the Raptors’ two. Despite Anthony Davis’ exceptional performance and the Lakers’ victory, Rajakovic vented his frustration, emphasizing the stark contrast in foul calls.

Rajakovic, a first-year Serbian coach for Toronto, was particularly incensed by Davis shooting 14 of the Lakers’ 36 free throws, while the entire Raptors team only attempted 13. He questioned the fairness of the free throw distribution, highlighting the perceived lack of calls for Toronto’s star players. Rajakovic specifically mentioned Scottie Barnes, noting his powerful drives to the rim without receiving sufficient foul calls. The coach’s passionate criticism of the referees stemmed from his belief that his team, too, had star players deserving of equitable treatment.

Despite the Raptors’ effort, Davis, who recorded 41 points and 11 rebounds, played a pivotal role in leading the Lakers to victory. Notably, Davis scored 20 of his points during a remarkable fourth-quarter performance, going a perfect 11 for 11 at the free throw line. His clutch plays, including a crucial block on Barnes, sealed the win for Los Angeles.

Rajakovic’s frustration with the officiating extends beyond this particular game. He expressed dismay with the treatment his team has received throughout the season, lamenting the disparity in foul calls and implying that the league is turning a blind eye. Rajakovic’s vocal defense of his players resonated with the team, as they appreciated his unwavering support and the sense of unity it fostered.

In response to Rajakovic’s remarks, LeBron James, who contributed 22 points and 12 assists to the Lakers’ victory, acknowledged the team effort that contributed to their win. Davis himself acknowledged the collective impact, deflecting the focus from his own performance and highlighting the team’s cohesive play, which resulted in critical stops and rebounds.

The Raptors, despite the loss, saw impressive performances from Barnes, who scored 26 points, and Pascal Siakam, who added 25. The team has shown promise since acquiring RJ Barrett and Immanuel Quickley from the New York Knicks in a recent trade. However, their efforts were not enough to secure a victory against the Lakers, a team they have struggled against in recent road matchups.

This public criticism of the officials by Rajakovic is likely to result in a hefty fine from the NBA. Nevertheless, his players lauded his support and defense of the team, highlighting the strong bond between coach and players.

With this win, the Lakers achieved back-to-back victories for the first time in a month, elevating their record to .500 at 19-19. They face the Phoenix Suns in their next game, while the Raptors are set to take on the Los Angeles Clippers. Toronto played without starting center Jakob Poeltl, who is currently sidelined with a left ankle sprain. Toronto will miss Poeltl’s presence on the court, given his contributions both in scoring and rebounding, along with his league-leading shooting percentage.

In summary, the Toronto Raptors’ head coach, Darko Rajakovic, criticized the fouls called during their close loss to the Los Angeles Lakers. He expressed discontent over the significant disparity in free throws attempted by each team, particularly highlighting the lack of calls for his star players. Despite the Raptors’ notable performances, Anthony Davis’ exceptional performance fueled the Lakers’ victory. Rajakovic’s remarks resulted in a strong show of unity among the Raptors players, who appreciated his support. The Lakers’ win marks their first back-to-back victories in a month, while the Raptors will look to bounce back against the Los Angeles Clippers.