Lakers’ Lonzo Ball, Luke Walton explain mistake that sent Thunder game to overtime

“There was a miscommunication by us,” coach Walton said after the 138-128 overtime victory against the Thunder.

The Lakers topped the Thunder, 138-128, in overtime Thursday after a bit of controversy when Lonzo Ball’s attempt to foul Thunder star Russell Westbrook went wrong.

With his team winning 122-119 and less than five seconds to play, Ball reached in and fouled Westbrook, but the referees ruled that Westbrook was in the act of shooting, which gave him three free throws. The Thunder guard made all three shots, sending the game to overtime.

When asked what happened on that play at the end of regulation, Ball said: “I mean they told me to foul. (Kentavious Caldwell-Pope) had ’em. He got by KCP so I switched on ’em and I thought I got the foul off before he got up to shoot the ball, but apparently that’s not what happened.”

Ball took blame afterward, saying “It’s my fault (Westbrook) hit the free throws,” which prompted Ball to come out strong in overtime to help Los Angeles pull off an overtime victory.

“Maybe I should have fouled him a little earlier, but I had to just walk it off,” Ball said. “I told my teammates I got them for the next five minutes and I felt I did pretty good.”

Lakers coach Luke Walton wasn’t willing to place blame on Ball and admitted the Lakers didn’t communicate well on the court.

“That was miscommunication by us. We’ll take that,” Walton told reporters. “We told him to foul, but it was loud in there. I don’t think he understood what we meant, you know, right when he got the ball in bounds to foul.”

Teammate Kyle Kuzma credited Ball for being able to put his mistake behind him to play well in overtime.

“Hell of a response from him. Obviously we could have fould during that situation, but it was a little bit too late,” Kuzma told reporters. “For him to come in, not do well on that and hit some big time shots and passes in overtime and help win us the game.”

Walton added of Ball’s overtime performance: “We know that Zo can do it. It’s what we know he can become and it’s what we encourage him to try and do as often as possible, and you can kind of see it when he gets that confidence going.”

The refs later admitted the foul call on Ball was wrong. Referee Tom Washington explained to a pool reporter (via ESPN.com), in part, “”The official called the foul because at the time he thought Russell had started his shooting motion and he was clearly behind the 3-point line and there was illegal contact by Ball. … Upon being able to see the review of the play, we realized that the illegal contact actually happened prior to his upward motion, so it should have been a side-out.”

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