Pacers coach Rick Carlisle latest to complain about Lakers' free throw disparity

NBA: Indiana Pacers at Los Angeles Lakers

NBA: Indiana Pacers at Los Angeles Lakers

“I understand, respect for All-Stars and that, but we have star players on our team as well. How is it possible that Scottie Barnes [who was an All-Star this year]… 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 the whole game. How is that possible? How are you going to explain that to me? They had to win tonight? If that’s the case just let us know so we don’t show up for the game. Just give them the win.”

That was Raptors rookie coach Darko Rajakovic, who went off after a loss to the Lakers earlier this season and paid a $25,000 fine for it. Pacers coach Rick Carlisle made the same argument after Indiana’s 150-145 loss to Los Angeles Sunday, but the veteran coach made sure to phrase it in a way that would not get him fined by the league.

The Lakers have taken 420 more free throw attempts this season than their opponent, almost 200 more than the second-place Bucks (222) and well ahead of the third-place Celtics (218). This is the second straight season the Lakers have had, by far, the league’s largest free throw disparity. Teams have noticed. It’s enough to have the tinfoil hat conspiracy theory collective up in arms.

What’s really behind it? The Lakers do draw a lot of fouls, but not in the ways fans expect. They have the fourth-fewest drives per game of any team in the league and are in the bottom 10 in paint touches (to be fair, drive rate does not correlate to free throw attempts as one would instinctively expect). That said, thanks to the physicality of LeBron James and Anthony Davis, plus some foul hunters (Austin Reaves tops that list), they get to the line.

The real key is Darvin Ham’s Lakers don’t foul — the Lakers are a big team that Ham has playing vertically. The 1,291 free throws the Lakers have allowed this season are the second-fewest in the league (to Boston).

LeBron said this earlier in the season about the Lakers’ free throw disparity.

“A lot of people, a lot of coaches, a lot of teams are like ‘That’s all the Lakers do is get to the free throw line.’ It’s like this narrative out there that that’s all we do is get to the free throw line. I mean, we have attackers. That’s what we do. We have attackers. Yeah, we shoot the ball from the perimeter, but we’re not shooting 40, 50 threes a game. We’re not that team. We don’t have the luxury of being that team. When we’re getting to the paint, that’s what we’re really good at.”

The Lakers’ foul disparity is something they count on — and if it goes away in the postseason the Lakers will not be around for a run like last season.

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