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Lakers’ LeBron James, Lonzo Ball express dismay over Rockets’ propensity to bait fouls

LeBron James, Lonzo Ball, Lakers, James Harden, Rockets

The Los Angeles Lakers expressed some dismay at the challenge of defending the Houston Rockets, especially when it comes to their propensity to bait players into fouls. LeBron James and Lonzo Ball were two players who saw how James Harden went on to put up a monster 50-point triple-double, consisting of a long parade to the foul line.

“Just trying to defend without fouling,” said James, who briefly locked his hands behind his body on a Rockets possession in the third quarter, according to ESPN’s Dave McMenamin. “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.”

Harden, a volume 3-point shooter, only shot 4-of-12 from deep, doing much of his damage from the charity stripe, canning 18 of his 19 attempts.

“You can’t touch them,” said Ball, expressing extra indignation from the two times teammate Josh Hart was called for a foul while Harden was attempting a 3-pointer.

“I was just trying not to foul today. They were calling it tight today, so I was just trying to get my hands out of there… It’s very tough staying in front of [Harden] with your hands like that.”

Harden’s bruising yet elusive style of one-on-one ball can make him very tough to defend. He’s too quick to pick up way up high and too strong to give him an angle to drive, putting players at his mercy once he’s in proximity of the rim.

The Lakers, though, only shot five less free throws than the Rockets — the difference being Houston made them, as Chris Paul and Harden combined for 23-of-25 from the line (84.4 percent as a team), while James and Ball combined to shoot a woeful 3-of-8 on freebies, with the Lakers making only 55.6 percent of their foul shots as a team.

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