Raptors' VanVleet heavily criticizes officiating after loss

Toronto Raptors' Fred VanVleet (23) drives past Los Angeles Clippers' Terance Mann (14) during first half of an NBA basketball game Wednesday, March 8, 2023, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong) (Jae C. Hong, Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

LOS ANGELES – Fred VanVleet tried to take a double breath before addressing reporters. But the Toronto Raptors guard was unable to suppress his frustration with referee Ben Taylor and his crew.

VanVleet was extremely critical of Taylor after the Raptors' 108-100 loss to the Los Angeles Clippers on Wednesday night — not only for being called for a technical foul, but for the disparity in fouls and free throws.

“I don’t mind it. I’ll take the fine. I don’t really care. I thought Ben Taylor was terrible tonight," VanVleet said while using a profanity. "I think that most nights, you know out of the three, there’s one or two that just (mess) the game up. It’s been like that a couple of games in a row. Denver was tough, obviously.

"You come out tonight, competing pretty hard and I get a (lousy) tech that changes the whole dynamic of the game, changed the whole flow of the game.”

VanVleet, who is in his sixth year in the league, was called for his eighth technical of the season with 7:02 remaining in the third quarter. Paul George made the free throw to put the Clippers up 65-57.

VanVleet said the reason he picked up the technical was because he was imploring his team to play through what he thought were some questionable calls, albeit with more colorful language. He also said he understood there is a fine line on what he can say, but thought Taylor didn't give him enough leeway.

Toronto was called for 23 fouls to Los Angeles' 18, but the Clippers were 24 of 31 from the line while the Raptors were 13 of 14.

“We weren’t getting our money’s worth on a lot of those," Raptors coach Nick Nurse said of the fouls. "Probably a little bit of contact. We didn’t adjust (to the style of play) because we were back in the same situation.”

VanVleet and the Raptors were already in a foul mood about officiating before Wednesday’s game. They lost Monday night at Denver 118-113 after Scottie Barnes was ejected by Scott Foster with 28.3 seconds left and the Raptors trailing by one.

The technical came after Toronto’s Jakob Poeltl was called for a foul. Denver made the three subsequent free throws to ice the game.

Of VanVleet's eight technicals, three have been assessed by Taylor with one other coming from another official on a game Taylor was working. Taylor is in his 10th season as an NBA official.

“At a certain point as a player, you feel it’s personal and it’s never a good place to be," VanVleet said. "That’s not why we lost tonight, we got outplayed, but it definitely makes it tougher to overcome.”

VanVleet was already facing a $3,000 fine for the technical. He will face a bigger one for going off on officiating.

“I think the jurisdiction and the power trip that we’ve been on this year with some of our officials in this league is getting out of hand and l'll take my fine for speaking on it,” VanVleet said. “Most of the refs are trying hard, I like a lot of the refs, they’re trying hard, they’re pretty fair, and communicate well. And then you got the other ones who just want to be (idiots) and just kind of (screw) up the game. And no one’s coming to see that. They come to see the players.

"And I think we’re losing a little bit of the fabric of what the NBA is and was, and it’s been disappointing this season.”


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