Lakers try to “manipulate” refs’ whistles



LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. – Nuggets guard Jamal Murray knew exactly what happened during Friday’s lopsided second quarter, he was just careful where he was casting the blame.

The Lakers took 24 free-throw attempts in the quarter, including eight during a pivotal 17-1 run over the first five minutes. The Nuggets never recovered from the landslide, which also featured six turnovers and a Murray technical foul. The Lakers finished their 126-114 Game 1 win with a 37-28 advantage on free-throw attempts.

“If you watched the game, you could tell,” Murray said diplomatically. “Yeah, if you watched the game, then you could tell.”

But when asked how he can adapt to the whistle, he let out a laugh knowing it was an unavoidable theme.

“Just try to play through it,” Murray said. “It’s tough. (The Lakers) want to talk about every call and have full conversations and try to manipulate what happens, but you can’t worry about it. We know how it’s going to be. We know we’re the younger team. We’re just going to play through it. We’re going to find a way and we’re not going to go away so easy.”

Malone was similarly coy. He rarely offers opinions on officiating, preferring to keep his money and avoid readily available excuses.

“I’m looking forward to watching the film to see where all these fouls were called,” Malone said. “Obviously, in the second half things got evened out, but it was an extreme advantage for the Lakers in that first half. So watch the film, see the fouls that are being called, why they’re being called, should they have been called, and then try to learn from it and get better for Game 2.”

The Lakers missed 10 free throws (27-of-37), but it was the foul calls that undercut Denver’s mission. Nikola Jokic picked up three fouls in just 13 minutes over the first half, and his fourth came less than a minute into the third quarter. He had five before the Lakers headed to the fourth with a convincing 24-point lead. Teammates Murray and Paul Millsap both had to be careful as well after picking up three each in the first half.

“I’m not going to sit here and just blame it on the refs,” Murray said. “That’s not what I’m doing. We just got to play through it and earn the respect.”