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SPORTS

LeBron James Rants at NBA’s Replay Center for Calls, Lakers Lose on Buzzer-Beater, Trail Denver 2-0

DENVER (AP) — LeBron James was seeing red after the Los Angeles Lakers watched a golden opportunity slip away.

His frustration wasn’t so much centered on blowing a 20-point lead. Or his late missed 3-pointer that rimmed out with the game tied. Or Jamal Murray’s fadeaway buzzer-beater that gave the Denver Nuggets a 101-99 win over the Lakers in Game 2 of their first-round series Monday night.

James’ anger was more distant — the NBA’s replay center in Secaucus, New Jersey. At the heart of his wrath was a second-half foul of Michael Porter Jr. that was overturned with the league saying MPJ had made only marginal contact on D’Angelo Russell.

“I don’t understand what’s going on in the replay center, to be honest,” said James, whose team heads back to Los Angeles for Game 3 on Thursday facing a 2-0 deficit. “D-Lo clearly gets hit in the face on the drive. What the (expletive) do we have a replay center … it doesn’t make sense. It makes no sense. It bothers me.”

James wasn’t his usually expansive self in his postgame interview after the Lakers watched Murray and the Nuggets storm back from a 68-48 hole to capture their 10th straight win over the Lakers.

James had a chance to give the Lakers a lead with around 16 seconds left on a wide open 3-pointer.

“Rimmed out,” lamented James, who finished with 26 points and 12 assists.

Porter grabbed the rebound, setting up Murray’s game-winner, a fadeaway jumper over Anthony Davis as time expired.

James got right to the point after the game.

— On Denver’s comeback, which included being outscored 32-20 in the fourth: “We missed shots. We still got great looks and we just missed them. And they made it.”

— On Russell hitting seven 3s after going 1 for 9 from deep in the series opener: “We never lost confidence in him. D-Lo is D-Lo.”

— On if the Lakers can take anything from this game into Game 3 in L.A.: “Every game is its own challenge.”

— On the challenges after a heartbreaking loss: “Of course it’s a heartbreaking game and you don’t want to lose in that fashion.”

That’s when James began voicing his frustration with the replay center. Earlier in the game, Murray was called for a foul when James drove to the basket, only to have the Nuggets successfully challenge for the foul to be waved off.

In his replay-center rant, James referenced Monday’s earlier game, when the New York Knicks rallied in the final 30 seconds f or a wild 104-101 victory over the Philadelphia 76ers. The Knicks got the go-ahead 3-pointer from Donte DiVincenzo with 13 seconds left, a possession that started when they stole the ball from Tyrese Maxey. Joel Embiid said Maxey was fouled, and also that coach Nick Nurse and some players had attempted to call timeout before the Knicks got the ball.

“What are we doing?” James said as he ended his postgame interview.

___
By PAT GRAHAM AP Sports Writer

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