The Toronto Raptors were none too pleased with the referees after they had a game taken right from their hands.
Trailing the Sacramento Kings by three with 2.4 seconds left, the Raptors inbounded the ball to Terrence Ross, who hit the game-tying three as time expired.
However, referees reviewed the play and saw that Kings center DeMarcus Cousins tipped the inbounds pass, meaning the clock should have started right away. Instead, the clock did not begin until a few tenths of a second later, leaving Ross enough time to gather the ball and hit the shot.
Afterward, crew chief Mike Callahan said that the referees timed the play with a stop watch and determined that from the time Cousins touched the ball to the time Ross let go of the shot, 2.5 seconds had passed, meaning the shot came after time had expired.
Here’s the play:
And the replay showing Cousins clearly tipped the pass:
You don’t need to be a lip-reader to figure out Raptors coach Dwane Casey was saying after the refs ruled the shot didn’t count:
Meanwhile, Kings coach Dave Joerger was waving his players off the floor, telling them to leave the court before the referees could possibly overrule and change the call again. In contested endings like this, it’s not unusual to see players leave the floor as quickly as possible. Joerger even bid the Raptors a quick farewell, though they didn’t seem to notice.
After the refs finished explaining their logic, Casey still didn’t seem too pleased, slamming his clipboard as he left the floor:
The Raptors continued to sound off after the game. Ross, who was confused by the refs’ logic, said, “There’s nothing they can say to justify it. I mean, especially for the refs to be so nonchalant about it, that’s the thing about it that was really frustrating. But, I mean, that was just a bad call.”
Casey said the referees told him it was a “clock malfunction,” but he demands a better explanation that that.
“Even if the clock started once DeMarcus Cousins deflected it, T-Ross caught it, shot it, he still had, he shot it with .5 [seconds remaining]. So… he had plenty of time. So, I don’t know where the malfunction came. I’ve gotta hear more than that, because I just watched the same review they had.”
Several Raptors took to Twitter to argue about how the clock was managed a possession earlier. Some felt that after the Kings committed a shot-clock violation the possession before, there should have been more time left on the clock at the start of their final possession. If more time was remaining, even with Cousins tipping the pass, Ross would have had enough time to hit the shot.
While the Raptors won’t have the result overturned, it does seem that they have a legitimate complaint with how the clock was handled. The NBA will still review the play and decide whether the referees handled the clock correctly when they release the Last Two-Minutes report.
This is the second contested finish in the NBA this season. Earlier, the Denver Nuggets filed a protest over a loss after the Last Tw0-Minutes report revealed that the refs got a play wrong that led directly to a game-winning shot by the Grizzlies.
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