Looking back to Dec. 1st the Kings have a record of 6-12. Several of those losses have been what some would call “Heartbreakers”, while others might call “Grand Thief”. And, they’d be pointing at the guys in the stripped shirts, as the main villains. I decided to look further into the numbers and here’s what I found.
In 2 of the Kings 6 wins the margin of victory was less than the difference between what the Kings scored at the FT line compared to their opponent. And, in the 12 losses, the difference in 6 games could be blamed on the FT differential. So, 1/3 of the Kings wins were decided at the FT line and ½ of their losses were decided there.
Before in get into the specifics, here are some general facts.
In the Kings losses they averaged 23.0 fouls, and 22.5 in their wins.
In the Kings losses their opponent averaged 18.9 fouls, and 22.8 in their wins.
The Kings shot 75.0% from the FT line in their wins, and 72.7% in their losses.
The Kings opponent shot 70.0% from the line in the Kings wins, and 78.9% in their losses.
Date Opp Win Margin FT Margin FTA Margin Foul Differential
12/16 Was 3 4 7 -5
12/19 Mil 1 9 9 0
12/5 Phx 8 8 5 4
12/8 Noh 2 5 4 1
12/26 Lal tie 3 4 3
01/01 Lal 1 11 13 9
01/02 Mav 8 15 13 8
01/05 Phx 4 11 9 8
Explanation: In the 12/16 game against Washington, the Kings had 5 fewer fouls, which lead to 7 more FTA’s for the Kings and 4 more points at the FT line. Kings win by 3.
In the 12/5 game against Phx, the Kings had 4 more fouls, which lead to 5 additions FTA’s for Phx. Phx made 8 additional FT’s because they shot a higher percentage at the line, and won the game by 8.
In the 12/26 game against the Lakers, I only looked at regulation, and subtracted fouls and points scored in OT. The Kings had 3 more fouls, which lead to 4 additional FTA’s for LA. LA made 3 more FT’s and the game was tied in regulation.
What’s not obvious based on the chart, is why the foul differential. In the 01/01 game against the Lakers the Kings committed 9 more fouls than the Lakers, but the Kings were only called for 1 foul more than their average of 23. And, in the 01/02 game against the Mav’s the Kings were called for their average of 23 even though they had 8 more than the Mav’s. Not on the chart is the 12/09 game against the Spurs where the Kings were called for 26 fouls or 3 above their average, but the differential was 12 because the Spurs were only called for 14 fouls. Good teams don’t get called for as many fouls, evidentially.
The truth is, in their 12 losses the Kings were only called for more than 2 fouls above their average in 3 games, the 26 against the Spurs, 28 against the Lakers on 12/26, and 27 against Phx on 01/05. The Kings were called for between 22 and 28 fouls in 14 of the last 18 games. The differential is because in the losses the opponents are only being called for an average of 18.9 fouls per game, or 4.1 less then the Kings average. In the Kings 12 losses their opponent was only called for 20 or more fouls 5 times, and the Kings were called for less then 20 fouls only once.
What turns out to be almost as important to the outcome than fouls is FT%. In their loses the Kings were called for 49 more fouls which lead to 64 additional FTA’s. But, our opponents scored an additional 81 points off of FT’s because they averaged 78.9% from the FT line. So, 25% of the FT discrepancy was due to poor shooting by the Kings and not by bad calls from the refs. Also, the Kings fouls generate 10% more FTA’s the their opponents fouls. In the Kings losses their opponent went to the line 322 times on 276 fouls by the Kings. The Kings went to the line 238 times on 227 fouls by their opponents.
In the Kings wins they committed as many fouls as their opponents.
In the Kings losses they committed 4 more fouls then their opponents
The Kings commit as many fouls in their losses as their wins.
The Kings shot a similar FT% in wins vs. losses (75% - 72.5%)
The Kings opponents’ shot a higher FT% in the Kings losses vs. wins (78.9% - 70.0%)
Good defensive teams like the Spurs, Mavs, Cle, and Lakers get called for from 15 & 20 fouls per game even against good teams. The Kings are getting called for between 22 & 28 even against bad teams. The conclusion can only be that the Kings themselves and not the refs are responsible for the Kings being outscored at the FT line. And, the fact that they give up 10% more FTA’s per Foul than their opponents, seems to suggest that they either have more ‘and 1’s’ or they foul players more often in the act of shooting while they’re not yet in the penalty.
This data in no way rebukes the opinions of the conspiracy theorists that feel refs manipulate the outcome of games. There is no way to determine if a call went against one team but should have been called the other way. There’s no way of determining if calls protected one teams lead or allowed one team to make a comeback. And, there’s no way to know what evil lurks in the heart of Refs. No the purpose was to determine what percentage of the games could have been determined by the teams FT opportunities. And, the answer to that, at least in Dec & Jan was 44% or 8 of 18.
If the Kings hope to win their FAIR share of those games, they need to make changes. First they need to improve the FT shooting percentage. And, more importantly, the Kings need to improve their defense. Without pointing at individuals, the team has to limit their fouls to 20 per game to be on par with the better defensive teams. How they can go about doing that, I’ll leave to others to discuss. For my part I feel that the frequency of foul calls against the Kings in their losses, isn’t statistically out of their norm, and therefore the Refs are in the clear for now. But, I’m still looking!