It’s called the “charity stripe” for a reason. It is an opportunity to score freely in a game; no arms flailing about to hinder your vision, no opponents chasing you down, little disturbance on the court while other players wait until your release before they make any movements, etc. Free throws are basically complimentary points.

The only catch is… you have to make them.

Not every player in the league is savvy at the free throw line. Many, like Shaquille O’Neal who is shooting just under 50%, certainly are not. In 53 games, he has missed 124 free throws — 124 points! Some players do have the touch from the line. Steve Nash is the best free throw shooter in the NBA at 94%. In 62 games, he has only missed 11!

In light of another loss, the Lakers should take some time to think long and hard about how they let this game against Miami get away from them. A close-fought battle, this game could have gone in either team’s favor. The Heat led by nine points in the second half, which the Lakers retaliated with a late run. More timely shots from clutch-ready Kobe Bryant and Derek Fisher gave the Lakers an opportunity to take this game at the end of regulation.

Unfortunately, by the time the clock expired and overtime approached, the damage to this game had already been done. It would end with a 3-point loss in the American Airlines Arena… again.

Missed free throws: 10.

In the Lakers’ 16 losses, better free throw shooting in six close games could have either gotten the win, or at least provide an opportunity to attain the victory…

  • vs. Houston (101-91): 20/27
  • at Utah (94-102): 17/24
  • at Cleveland (87-93): 15/24
  • at Memphis (93-95): 17/27
  • vs. Boston (87-86): 16/25
  • at Miami (111-114): 15/25

In the early losses to Houston and Utah, the Lakers could have cut the lead to three and one respectively if they had made their free throws. A 1-3 point deficit in the last few seconds of either game could have provided a perfect opportunity to win. Unfortunately, this was not the case.

Perhaps this is delving too much into such a small aspect of the game. Obviously, there are other factors that lead to wins and losses — turnovers, rebounds, better decision-making, etc. However, when a team is sitting as far up in the standings as the Lakers are, fighting for placement and homecourt advantage in the post-season, seemingly trivial items such as missed free throws, especially in close games, is significant.

Maybe we should be concerned with bigger things, like better defensive efforts, ball movement, a player’s shooting touch.

It is difficult not to feel robbed, however, when a thought occurs that if not for the dismal free throw shooting in six close games, this 46-16 record could be 52-10 right now.

  • 242LakerFan

    “Perhaps this is delving too much into such a small aspect of the game.”
    I wish this were the case. The fact is that if we had made HALF the ft’s we missed we’d have those 50+ wins and be on target for a 68-70 win, dominant season and home court throughout.
    Free throw pct is vital, along with FG pct, in winning ballgames. Look back at the Showtime era. Those teams were close to 50/80 when they won. Missing free throws may be dismissed when you’re losing by 10-20pts, but not in close losses. Then, it’s a difference maker.

    • lakerman1

      For some strange reason the team just does not shoot freethrows well and apparently the coaching squad does not see this as an important issue. I cringe when ever one of the players goes to Charity Stripe. LOL

  • easteregg

    missed free throws are part of the game…..live with it…it works both ways.

    its like saying if memphis grizzlies oj mayo would have made his last two free throws, then kobe wouldn’t have a chance and lakers would lose that game.

    all teams miss free throws, you need to look at how the other teams shoot their free throws also if you want to analyze thoroughly. otherwise, this is a “pos” commentary.

    missed free throws are part of the game, live with it.

    • ruxpin810

      well, if you did look at how the other teams shoot their free throws, you’d see that the other team shot a way higher percentage in 4 of the 6 games that anna mentioned. and yes, missed free throws is a part of the game but if the lakers at least hit 77% of their free throws like they average in the season, they may have won all of most of these games that anna mentioned. obviously, we don’t expect the lakers to hit 100% so yes, they can miss free throws but at least hit your average. so to me, your comment is a pos, not the commentary.

  • LakerMarc

    This is embarassing. The way they are playing makes me ashamed to be a Laker Fan. You could almost understand it if they had won last nights game, but….More of the same blah blah blah blah blah ……..
    maybe they’ll manage to break another record and actually lose again on Sunday.

  • LakerMarc

    SERIOUSLY DISGUSTED AND THEY ALL SUCKED…..PAU CANT DO ANYTHING RIGHT.

  • Robert

    Goodbye home court. So, they have a bigger hill to climb in the playoffs.
    .
    Now that they won’t get home court, they will probably be even lazier, saving it for the playoffs instead. Hope this plan doesn’t backfire.

  • http://yahoo jaydubb415

    is it that bad the nation dont even talk about the blowwouts 2 weeks ago i said this team has already peaked and that was after a win THIS team has no TOUGHNESS that champion ship run was false bravodo it pissed me off when wale said we were overated on first take but it pissed me off more because some of is true now dont get me wrong i love the lakers but this is no longer ” PHIL’S ” this team has tuned him out and honestly we would be better if he left now ,say im over exagerating after a loss no this could be worse we could lose 2 a oklahoma or a portland you say why because the league as saw that you can punch them in the mouth and they want hit back and if you start it early you have a chance b4 they start running are record over 100 points is flawless are games 99 points or less is damm near .500 you know what that is toughness can you bump with the bumbers can you bang with the bangers .this is a football anonelgy but stick with me the year mike holgrem ( ex coach of the seahawks ) said he was retiring and leaving the team 2 mora that team layed down like a dogg you know why in sports every player on a team wants 2 be sure there following somebody thats going 2 be in the fox hole with them thru the season and after the worse thing you can do as a coach who’s been coaching one team lets say 5 yrs or more if you tell that team this is it after the year is up either they will ride with you and some have but mostly in college and high school but were talking about grown men if you tell them im done most of that time that team will lay down like a dogg now even though phil hasnt said that pubicly but players hear it whose coaching after phil and it turns into winning 4 the team 2 winning 4 myself so i look good b4 phils gone this team has tuned phil out and i guarantee if someone else was coaching who is a little more vocally forceful and who stayed on there ass hard about playing defense this team coluld go back 2 back but as of now these softies will flame out second round is the best””’

  • http://yahoo jaydubb415

    just 2 let anyone know who question my loyalty im riding ” 2 the wheels fall off ” ive been with the lakers 25 yrs thru ups and the downs but its getting 2 the point where you can look at the schedule and guess what kind of game it will be 4 instance you see philly ,sorry team but tough game i knew that from last year were ariza let ai dribble and then hit the winning shot you see bobcats it just by that teams toughness not talent we have talent out the ass but that other’s team toughness you can tell if the its going 2 be a rough nite 4 us , if we constantly played tough with are talent we would have the best record in the NBA but we have no toughness and all skill so teams with average talent but more toughness gives as a hard game and it shouldn’t be we should be whooping these .500 teams ass now where getting blowed out by average ass teams wait 2 weget 2 orlando i wish phil hip would go out 4 2 months just so this team can hear it thru another coach this is the worst we have looked in a while”

  • http://yahoo jaydubb415

    stop using free throws as a scape goat this team has no TOUGHNESS at all our bigs soft odom soft benga ,kobe,and ron ron are the only touph players on are team the rest are p@!ssies

    • http://thelakersnation.com/blog/category/original-articles/benchmob-beat/ Anna Gonda

      I didn’t say freethrows are the only problem they need to address. I’m saying IT’S A PROBLEM.

  • althelakerfanyoushouldmeet

    I guarantee you the coaching staff are making the free throw mishaps a HUGE deal!!! It’s always the little things that makes the difference btwn championship teams and contenders. Plain and simple

  • CB4 or NOAH

    it’s not the fucking ft you morons! lakers has two 7 footers that the miami does not have ! bynum n gasol should had realized that and so the bobcats! Unfortunately Qrich had a big night and I blame kobe that he don’t respect the man by allowing him to shoot. great defense by ron? wade still got 27 and 14 assist.
    two teams fighting for the 8th seed on the east(miami,bobcats) gets a win from the no. 1 seeds in the west not to mentioned defending champion! what a shame to be a LAKeR fan!gggrrrrr!

  • lakerbunny

    PHIL SHOULD TAKE THE TEAM TO A JR HIGH TO LEARN THE FUNDAMENTALS OF FREETHROWS, PASSING, AND LAYUPS! THEY TEND TO HAVE NEGATIVE GROUPS OF ANY OF THE ABOVE IN EVERY GAME THIS YEAR! TOO MANY DIRECT PASSES AND NOT ENOUGH BOUNCE PASSES! FREETHROW MISSES BECOME CONTAGIOUS! LAMAR, PAU AND BYNUM TAKE TOO MANY DIRECT SHOTS AT THE BASKET! PRACTICE THE BANK SHOT!!!(SEE TIM DUNCAN) BYNUM SHOULD USE A HOOK SHOT MORE OFTEN! IT KEEPS YOUR BODY BETWEEN YOUR DEFENDER AND YOUR SHOT! %%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$ THERE ARE 458 TICKETS LEFT FOR TUESDAYS REVENGE GAME VERSUS BOSH AND THE RAPTORS! GO TO LAKERS.COM AND CLICK ON THETICKETEXCHANGE BUTTON! 278 TICKETS FOR FRIDAYS GAME AND KURT RAMBIS’ RETURN!

  • SNakedEyes24

    Lakers Today. Lakers Tomorrow. Lakers Forever…..

    First off, I’m glad it’s a “charity stripe” issue and nothing more serious. Come on now…the Lakers are overall pretty healthly, compared to the likes Boston or Houston. As a Laker fan, I forever dislike both teams as memories of “Bird to Mchale” and “The Dream” smoking the Lakers for 20 and 20 have come and gone.

    The Lakers have been on cruise control the last few games and now, like a Toyota owner’s worst nightmare, their stuck and CAN’T STOP>>>>>>>!!!!!!

    Note to Phil:

    Dear Philip Douglas Jackson,

    It’s time to massage the gas pedal a little. First off, let’s figure out what to do about the point guard situation that you got. We both know what I’m talking out so… let’s move on..

    PS>Just have your guys make the MF freethrows…

    The #1 Laker FAN,

    SNakedEyes24

  • rudy t.

    i have a question… WHAT HAPPENED TO OUR BENCH MOB/MINUTE MEN? :( i want ronnie back. i want the machine back. *sigh*

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