MEMPHIS, Tenn. — The Los Angeles Lakers‘ 109-108 victory over the Memphis Grizzlies on Saturday resulted in a historically triumphant moment in LeBron James‘ 17-year career as well as a historically perplexing one.
On the one hand, the Lakers’ 14-2 start to the season is the best that any of James’ teams has ever achieved through 16 games, edging the 2016-17 Cleveland Cavaliers‘ 13-3 mark. On the other hand, James’ 27 field goal attempts without attempting a single free throw was the most shots he’s ever taken without earning a trip to the line, according to research by ESPN Stats & Information.
“It’s frustrating,” Lakers coach Frank Vogel said. “LeBron’s going to the basket all night long. He took nine 3s, but he’s in the paint all night long. … When your guy’s attacking the basket the way he is and getting zero free throw attempts, it’s something that can be frustrating.”
Sixteen of James’ 27 attempts were in the paint, and after several animated debates with referees Aaron Smith and Jenna Schroeder throughout the game, he continued to plead his case with reporters.
“I’m living in the paint and if you look at my arm right here, these are four or five [scratches] that happened the last two games, and they weren’t called at all,” said James, who ended with a game-high 30 points on 14-for-27 shooting.
He averages 8.1 free throws per game for his career, but his 5.6 free throws per game average this season marks the fewest he’s ever taken. Saturday was just the 14th time in 1,214 career games that he didn’t take a fre