Lillard frustrated with rule changes: Officiating has been 'unacceptable'

Ronald Martinez / Getty Images Sport / Getty

Damian Lillard is the latest star to voice his discontent with how NBA referees are calling fouls this season.

"I feel like the way the game is being officiated is unacceptable," Lillard said after his Portland Trail Blazers fell 117-109 to the Los Angeles Clippers on Tuesday, courtesy of NBC Sports' Kurt Helin. "I don't want to go too deep into it so they make a big deal out of it, but the explanations, the shit that's getting missed, I mean, come on.

"I felt like coming in, the rule change wouldn't affect me, because I don't trick the referees, I don't do the trick plays, and it's just unacceptable. Then the explanations and the remarks in return when you tell them is just like - I don't even have nothing else to say about it."

The NBA made a concerted effort entering the 2021-22 season to cut down on calls stemming from "overt, abrupt, or abnormal non-basketball moves" by offensive players attempting to bait defenders into committing fouls.

Those tweaks may be behind a noticeable drop in Lillard's offensive numbers this campaign; the six-time All-Star is scoring just 19.3 points per game through 11 contests this season, the lowest output since his rookie year. He's also managing just 3.2 free-throw attempts per game, far less than half of the 7.2 trips to the line he averaged in 2020-21.

Some players have welcomed the change, including Golden State Warriors forward Draymond Green. The 31-year-old opined in October that matchups have been much more enjoyable to watch this season thanks to referees not rewarding players who were "cheating the game."

However, Brooklyn Nets star James Harden, who was specifically mentioned by Green as one of the biggest benefactors of the old rules, said earlier this season that he believes he's being targeted by the officiating adjustments. Atlanta Hawks guard Trae Young has also aired his frustrations with the changes.

Lillard frustrated with rule changes: Officiating has been 'unacceptable'
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