The Los Angeles Lakers found themselves so frustrated by the officiating in the second half of Thursday's 126-111 loss to the Houston Rockets that several players, LeBron James and Lonzo Ball among them, purposely held their hands behind their backs on a series of defensive possessions to make a point to the referees.
"Just trying to defend without fouling," James said, who briefly locked his hands behind his body on a Rockets possession in the third quarter. "That's a point of emphasis anytime you play Houston. They got guys that can sell calls really good — Chris [Paul] and James [Harden] — so you got to try to keep your hands out of the cookie jar."
The Rockets were called for more fouls than the Lakers overall (24-21), but Houston took more free throws (32-27), led by Harden's 18-for-19 night and Paul's 5-for-6 showing from the stripe. In the teams' previous meeting, a 124-115 Houston win on Oct. 20, Harden went 11-for-15 on free throws and Paul went 7-for-9.
Harden came into the game ranked second in the league with 9.4 free throw attempts per game, and he doubled that output against the Lakers en route to a 50-point triple-double, adding 11 assists and 10 rebounds.