Raptors coach Darko Rajakovic produced a candidate for postgame rant of the year when he ripped the officials after Toronto’s 132-131 loss to the Lakers on Tuesday.
Rajakovic literally pounded the table as he lamented the 36-13 free throw disparity that favored the Lakers. He also called out the officials for how they handled the fourth quarter, a period during which Los Angeles was granted 23 free throws to Toronto’s two.
“That’s outrageous,” Rajakovic seethed. “What happened tonight, this is completely BS. This is shame. Shame for the referees. Shame for the league to allow this. Twenty-three free throws for them and we get two free throws in the fourth quarter? Like, how to play the game?
“I understand respect for All-Stars and all that, but we have star players on our team as well. How is [it] possible that Scottie Barnes, who is an All-Star-caliber player in this league, he goes every single time to the rim with force and trying to get to the rim without flopping and not trying to get foul calls, he gets two free throws for a whole game?
“How is that possible? How are you going to explain that to me?”
Raptors HC Darko Rajakovic was heated in the postgame presser, unhappy with the Lakers 23 free throw attempts in the 4Q pic.twitter.com/1xvoXrUM6k
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) January 10, 2024
Indeed, the Lakers were granted plenty of free-throw chances late in the game. Anthony Davis shot 11 in the fourth quarter — a frame during which he scored 20 of his 41 points — and that included a whopping eight free throws in the game’s final minute-plus.
Also among Rajakovic’s qualms with the officials was a late offensive foul whistled on RJ Barrett. He was called for a moving screen after bumping into Davis and sending him sprawling to the ground. That wiped out a game-tying Scottie Barnes 3-point shot with 24.8 seconds left in regulation.
RJ Barrett was called for a moving screen before this game-tying three from Scottie Barnes.
Good or bad call? 🤔
— ClutchPoints (@ClutchPoints) January 10, 2024
Rajakovic believed calls like that prevented the Raptors from having a fair shot to win the game.
“They came to win tonight? If that’s the case, just let us know, so we don’t show up for the game,” Rajakovic raged. “Just give them a win. But that was not fair tonight. And this is not happening [for the] first time for us. Scottie Barnes is going to be [an] All-Star. He’s going to be the face of this league and what’s happening over here during whole season … it’s complete crap.”
It wasn’t just the calls that had Rajakovic fuming. He also was upset that he wasn’t given an adequate explanation for why they were being made.
“There is no explanation,” he said. “They just come up there, they review it and they see what they want to see. They don’t want to hear us, what we got to say. They don’t want to hear the players.”
While Rajakovic knows he will get a hefty fine for calling out Ben Taylor’s crew, he appears to believe it was necessary because of the treatment the Raptors have been getting throughout the season.
“How are we supposed to play? It’s happening a lot, but I’m telling our guys be professional, keep fighting, keep going for the next one,” Rajakovic said. “But until when? For how long?”
And it appears that his call-out of the officials earned the first-year head coach plenty of respect in the locker room.
“It just says that he’s all for us as a family, as a team,” said veteran forward Thaddeus Young, per ESPN. “We’re always going to stick together. We’re always going to be behind one another as a family, as a team. We’re always going to stick together, and he’s always been behind us since day one coming in here.
“We love Darko to death. We think the world of coach, and we definitely appreciate him going to bat for us.”
Source : ESPN.com