The Dallas Mavericks pulled off one of the most dramatic victories of the season with a double-overtime win over the Los Angeles Lakers on Thursday, but it wasn’t without controversy along the way.
The controversy didn’t abate when the NBA released its final two-minute report a day later.
Both teams were excited about the refereeing of the game, but the Lakers were particularly angry when their comeback nearly ended the game. The biggest point of contention was Lakers wing Troy Brown Jr.’s game-winner, which was blocked by Mavericks’ Tim Hardaway Jr., sending the game into overtime.
LeBron James, in particular, was furious. According to ESPN’s Dave McMenamin, Brown offered a diplomatic answer to reporters in the Lakers locker room after the game, but when reporters followed up with referee Joshua Devin’s explanation — Hardaway in particular only did “high five contacts’, which is legal — James interjects 20 feet away:
“No, fucking foul,” James said emphatically to everyone in the room. “It’s a foul. Anyway [Brown] Say, it’s fucking foul. That s*** is blatant, they should call it that. “
That’s not a word from someone who’s happy about losing 119-115 and falling to 19-23 on the season. Even with perfect refereeing, it would have been a gut-wrenching game, as Luke Doncic hit a 3-pointer in the final minute to force the first and second overtime.
A day later, the NBA confirmed the referee’s cancellation, which was not what James and the Lakers had hoped for. The Last Two Minutes report noted that officials missed and missed as many as seven calls and missed calls during the final two minutes of the regular season and two overtime periods, but confirmed the call on Hardaway was correct.
The NBA’s explanation backs up Steven’s postgame comments:
Hardaway Jr. (DAL) legally contests a jumper attempt by Brown Jr. (LAL) and makes contact with the ball. Any “high five” contact is considered incidental.
If the Lakers wanted something more pissed off, the league conceded that officials missed two calls on the same possession at the end of the first overtime. With less than 15 seconds left, James broke into the basket under Doncic’s defense, but was blocked by Christian Wood who assisted. A scramble for the ball resulted in Doncic recovering possession, forcing double overtime.
In the L2M report, the NBA noted that Wood “made contact with James’ left arm before the block,” while Doncic made contact with Gabriel first, which “affected his ability to control the rebound.” Basically, two fouls on one missed shot.
Of course, the Lakers also benefited from some errors by the referees. All five of the other missed calls in the report benefited Los Angeles, a performance Mavericks owner Mark Cuban called “theworst referee game“On Twitter.