NBA 2018-19: LeBron on why Lakers played defense against Rockets

LeBron James explained after the game the move was intentional, and the players were trying to make a point to the referees.

LeBron James explains how the "hands behind back" move against Rockets was a message for the referees.   -  Jason Miller/Getty Images

The Lakers' defense had a slightly different look against the Rockets on Thursday when it fell 126-111. 

Several Los Angeles players, including LeBron James and Lonzo Ball, held their hands behind their back on a series of defensive plays, but what was the reason behind that? 

James explained after the game the move was intentional, and they were trying to make a point to the referees as the Lakers grew frustrated with some of the calls. 

"Just trying to defend without fouling," James said, via ESPN. "That's a point of emphasis any time 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."

Ball added: "You can't touch them. 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."

 

Coach Luke Walton admitted frustration may have gotten the best of his team. He said he thought the Lakers could've done a better job keeping its composure. 

"How hard is it to play defense like that? It's tough," Walton said. "I think they were just trying to make a point: 'We're not using our arms here. Stop calling fouls.' But we can't, whether we get frustrated or not, we can't let that affect us going under screens or us not communicating ... which I thought we could've done a better job of tonight."

Both Walton and Kyle Kuzma were called for technical fouls, and Kuzma indicated the discrepancy was obvious. 

"To defend them, you just can't touch them," Kuzma said. "So just trying not to touch them."

The Lakers fell to a 17-11 record, while the Rockets improved to 13-14. Los Angeles will face the Hornets on Saunday with tip-off set for 5.30 am IST.