On May 2, 2016, Game 2 of the Western Conference Semifinals between the Thunder and Spurs came down the wire. Both teams played great basketball and all was exactly as the NBA gods would want from a postseason between rivals. At least for the first 47 minutes and 47 seconds. As for the rest, I think SB Nation’s Rodger Sherman said it best:
And then came the game’s final 13 seconds. It’s hard to describe those 13 seconds without acknowledging the massive failures by all parties involved. Both teams made stupid plays. Both teams had a clear-cut path to victory, and both teams squandered their chance in outrageous fashion. Worse, both teams committed multiple infractions, and the third team on the court — the referees — stood silently as basketball calamity unfolded.
Afterward, the official report from the NBA found five missed calls by the officials. FIVE. IN 13 seconds. That’s more than the average WWE referee misses in that amount of time.
Here are the calls the NBA says it missed:
13.5 seconds remaining: Manu Ginobili steps over the line defending Dion Waiters’ inbounds pass
In the last two minutes, this is a technical foul. The Thunder should’ve received an additional free throw, which could have given them a two-point lead and another opportunity to throw the ball in.
13.5 seconds remaining: Dion Waiters fouls Manu Ginobili
Still the same inbounds pass. It was obvious that Dion Waiters reached across into the field of play and pushed Ginobili. Manu’s over-exaggerated reaction being a little WWE in nature have led the refs passing on a call, but it should have been a turnover, giving San Antonio the ball down.
13.5 seconds remaining: Patty Mills holds Steven Adams
Keep in mind we still haven’t actually seen the inbound pass, but yet a third infraction took place. A foul away from the ball before the ball is inbounded in the final two minutes results in two shots and possession for the team that was fouled, so if this was called, the Thunder might have taken a three-point lead and retained possession.
13.5 seconds remaining: Kawhi Leonard holds Russell Westbrook
Fourth infraction without the ball actually being in play. This would have also given the Thunder two free throws and the ball.
2.6 seconds remaining: Serge Ibaka grabs LaMarcus Aldridge while shooting
The officials report rules that Ibaka held Aldridge’s jersey as he shot.
This would’ve given Aldridge, who was ten for ten on the night, two foul shots with his team trailing by one. Oklahoma City had no timeouts, and would’ve had to go the full length of the court in 2.6 seconds trailing by one.
After all of that, the Thunder won, 98-97, and Spurs fans were cheated. But San Antonio also committed uncalled violations just like Oklahoma City, and still had the chance to win in the game’s closing seconds, had they just been able to make a shot.
So is this the case of karma taking over? Three uncalled Spurs fouls (two of which could have resulted in the Thunder shooting and retaining the ball) vs. two uncalled Thunder fouls that could have given the Sours the lead.
And, in the end, would have the series being 2-0 made a difference in the long run, once you know the outcome of the 2016 NBA Finals anyway?
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