It's clear to see the Los Angeles Lakers benefitted from a generous whistle in the end of their 132-131 win against Scottie Barnes, Darko Rajakovic, and the Toronto Raptors. LA attempted 23 free throws in the fourth quarter, while Toronto mustered just two as they surrendered 44 points in the final stanza.
It's hard to nail down which part of this game was more egregious. Was it the fact LA seemingly got fouled on every possession after Immanuel Quickley fouled out with four minutes remaining, or Barnes getting smacked on his way to the rim constantly with no whistle whatsoever?
While Rajakovic became an overnight sensation with an expletive-laden tirade in which he called out the officials for their ineffectiveness and implied the Raptors "shouldn't have showed up" if they weren't going to be given a fair shake. Darko made sure to mix some praise for Barnes in there as well.
Rajakovic bemoaned the lack of calls Barnes is getting, calling him someone who can be "the face of the league" in a particularly effusive bit of praise. The numbers back up Rajakovic's fiery claim that Barnes doesn't always get the whistle he should when he attacks the basket.
Toronto Raptors' Darko Rajakovic tabs Scottie Barnes as "face of the league"
Rajakovic knows the type of player Barnes can be, as his improved shooting, lethal defense, and raw power attacking the basket have helped him put together a worthy All-Star campaign. Even with Barnes getting better, the referees aren't affording him the same respect other stars get.
Of the 51 players averaging over 20 points per game this season, Barnes ranks 44th in free throw attempts per game with just 3.8 per contest. This comes despite over two-thirds of his shots coming inside the arc. This is not a 3-point specialist handing in the corner all game long.
Barnes is one of 66 players who drive to the basket at least 9 times per game, but he ranks 62nd in free throws coming off those drives. Everyone below the 6-8 Barnes is 6-6 or shorter, including two 6-0 point guards in Fred VanVleet and TJ McConnell.
Look no further than two of Toronto's final possessions for evidence of how Barnes was getting hosed by Ben Taylor. After a 3-ball was wiped out due to a questionable moving screen on RJ Barrett, Barnes was hacked on multiple drives to the paint, with no fouls called on any of them.
Rajakovic is not just supporting one of his players. He knows as well as anyone that Barnes has the talent needed to be an All-Star year in and year out. If the officials would recognize the extra contact he receives on his drives to the basket, perhaps his numbers would increase and the Raptors could have an extra win on the ledger.