Portland Trail Blazers All-Star Damian Lillard has had a rough start to the 2021-22 season. The normally-reliable point guard is averaging just 19.3 points per game on 36.5% shooting from the field, 25.5% from the three-point arc, well down from last season’s averages and his career pace.
Today Joey Linn of si.com relayed quotes from Lillard stating that officiating is one of the factors frustrating him this season. Talking to reporters after Portland’s 117-109 loss to the Los Angeles Clippers on Tuesday night, Lillard said:
The way the game is being officiated is unacceptable. I don’t want to go too deep into it so they make a big deal out of it, but the explanations that’s getting missed, I mean, come on... I felt like coming in, the rule change wouldn’t affect me, because I don’t do the trick the referees, I don’t do the trick plays. It’s just unacceptable.
The NBA changed its rules over the off-season to limit fouls called on perimeter shots in which the shooter extended limbs or jumped into defenders to draw free throws.
Lillard is averaging just 3.2 free throw attempts per game, down from 7.2 last season, one of the biggest such drops in the NBA. He’s getting 4.4 foul shots per 100 possessions this season. Last year that number was 9.8.
After the comments went public, Lillard started receiving backlash on Twitter for the, “I don’t do trick plays” assertion. A super-entertaining example, and spirited argument, happened in this thread:
Lillard and the Trail Blazers take on the Phoenix Suns tonight at 6:00, Pacific.