Dallas, TX -- On Wednesday night, the Warriors faced off against Luka Doncic and the Kyrie Irving-less Mavericks in a back-and-forth affair that Golden State ultimately won. Or, did they?
According to Mavericks owner Mark Cuban, a game that finished with a final score of 127-125 should have finished 125-125 and gone into an overtime period. But, why?
With 1:59 left in the 3rd quarter, the ball rolled out of bounds under the Mavericks’ hoop. Warriors’ center Kevon Looney pointed in one direction and Mavericks’ guard Josh Green pointed in the other, both attempting to persuade the referee to reward their team with possession.
Ignoring the players, the referee immediately ruled it Warriors’ ball by pointing towards the baseline. Subsequently, the referee pointed towards the Mavericks’ bench to award them with a timeout (assumingly called by head coach Jason Kidd).
At this point, there was immense confusion for one team and none for the other.
After the referee pointed to the Mavericks’ bench to indicate a timeout, Kevon Looney threw his hands up in protest. The referee clarified Looney’s frustration, ensuring him that he was indicating a timeout, not a change of possession.
On the other side, the Mavericks thought the referee had changed ball possession, and they exited the timeout as if they were on offense. To their surprise, as they waited for the ball to be moved to midcourt, the Warriors were busy scoring.
If they really thought they were on offense, though, then why didn’t anyone take initiative to inbound the ball after the timeout?
Either way, the Mavericks embarrassed themselves on national television, allowing the Warriors to inbound and score the basketball without a defender in sight.
After the game, Mark Cuban took to Twitter to say, “Worst officiating non call mistake possibly in the history of the NBA. All [the refs] had to do was tell us and they didn't.”
Mr. Cuban, it is not the referees’ responsibility to clarify their ruling if you don't ask for clarification. It seems the Warriors understood the ruling, didn’t they? I mean, only ALL FIVE Warriors’ players were under the basket awaiting an inbound.
Let’s call a spade a spade: The Mavericks set-up their defense on the wrong basket and they’re embarrassed about it. I would be too, but does that really warrant a protest?
According to Cuban, it does, so here's why Cuban’s protest will not be upheld:
The referees did nothing wrong, the incident occurred in the 3rd quarter and not at the end of the game, and the Mavericks still had an opportunity to tie the game.
With 8.5 seconds left in the game, the Mavericks had the ball down three points (125-122).
Instead of shooting a three-pointer, Reggie Bullock inbounded the ball to a cutting Luka Doncic in an attempt to get a quick two. Defended by a persistent Draymond Green, Luka missed the contested layup, and the Warriors secured the rebound.
Dallas was forced to foul Looney, sending him to the free-throw line where he made 2/2, extending the lead to 127-122.
As time expired, Bullock made an uncontested three-pointer to cut the Warriors’ lead to 127-125, although the Mavericks were mathematically out of the game with or without his shot.
Mark Cuban will try to argue that the two points scored with 1:59 left in the 3rd quarter directly impacted the final score of the game, and he would be right.
Unfortunately, the final score of the game and the outcome of the game aren’t synonymous.
In a world where he is right about the referee’s deliberate ambiguity (which he is not), do we know for certain the Warriors would not still score on that possession? Additionally, I would hope that at the end of the game, the Warriors would not allow Bullock to take an uncontested three-pointer to tie the game as time expired.
In other words, one two-point basket in the 3rd quarter does not determine the outcome of the game.
Nice try, Cuban.