Pelicans Coach Questions Officials After Play-in Tournament Loss to Lakers

Willie Green highlighted the free-throw discrepancy between New Orleans and Los Angeles in the NBA play-in tournament.
Stephen Lew-USA TODAY Sports

The New Orleans Pelicans came up just short in the battle for the Western Conference's No. 7 playoff seed Tuesday, falling 110–106 to the Los Angeles Lakers at Smoothie King Center.

When the Pelicans face either the Golden State Warriors or Sacramento Kings on Friday in the play-in tournament clash for the No. 8 seed, New Orleans coach Willie Green is hoping more calls will go their way.

The Lakers were awarded 29 free-throw attempts on Tuesday, nearly double the amount given to the Pelicans (15). New Orleans, meanwhile, outscored Los Angeles 62–36 in the paint—the area where most shooting fouls are called.

"I don't feel like we've gotten a great whistle all season," Green said after the game when asked about the free-throw disparity. "That's how I feel when I watch the games. We're one of the teams that dominate the paint night in and night out. We have a physical dominant force in Zion [Williamson], along with others.

"It just seems like we're not getting those calls."

The Lakers finished second in the NBA this season with 1,983 free-throw attempts. Opponents shot 1,476 free throws against the Lakers—a total of 507 fewer than Los Angeles, which was by far the biggest differential in the NBA.

The Pelicans, on the other hand, attempted the ninth-most shots from the charity stripe (1,873) in the league while their opponents shot 1,699—a plus-240 differential in free throws.

Still, Green wasn't pleased with the officiating in the NBA's opening play-in game.

Green and the Pelicans will keep their playoff hopes alive Friday when they host the Kings or Warriors. The winner of that game earns an official NBA playoff appearance and a first-round matchup against the top-seeded Oklahoma City Thunder.

Tom Dierberger


Tom Dierberger is a writer and editor for the Breaking & Trending News Team at Sports Illustrated. Tom joined SI in 2023 after stints at FOX Sports, Bally Sports, and NBC Sports. In his spare time, Tom can be seen throwing out his arm while playing fetch with his dog, Walter B. Boy.