NBA Rumor: Officiating Complaints

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“There’s a lot of things that I like and enjoy about it, and there’s a lot of things that I hate about it,” Duncan said. “I hate the way the game’s being officiated at times, how they’ve underpowered the effect of a post player so that you’re allowed to beat the crap out of a post player. You’re allowed to take him off his spot. You’re allowed to hit him, bump him while they’re shooting. But if you turn and face and go out to the 3-point line, and you shoot the ball and fall down, all of a sudden, the whistle is blown. “So they’re protecting the shooters away from the basket. It overpowers some of the players that are away from the basket, and it underpowers post players who use their bodies and their physicality around the basket.”

Kentavious Caldwell-Pope came into Game 6 focused on not losing sight of Robinson, a rookie who is already one of the best players in the league at moving without the ball. Of course, the game got chippy. “You ain’t nothing,” Caldwell-Pope shouted at Robinson with 2:50 left in the half while Miami’s Bam Adebayo was at the free-throw line. Referee James Capers warned Caldwell-Pope to cool it down and he replied, “He’s the one talking sh–. He ain’t getting nothing tonight.”

Fournier specifically mentioned the Los Angeles Lakers who, according to him, are known around the league as massive complainers. Fournier specifically remembered their first game against the Lakers, which was before the bubble in which they complained to the refs for most of the time despite playing in a scrimmage. “Our first pre-bubble game was against the Lakers, and they complained from the first to the last minute, although it was a scrimmage, no TVs or anything. It’s just how the Lakers approach games.” Evan Fournier, via NBA Extra

The NBA upheld the two calls Los Angeles Lakers coach Frank Vogel took exception with in L.A.’s 111-108 Game 5 loss to the Miami Heat in the NBA Finals on Friday, but the league did find two other calls that should have gone the Lakers’ way. In its last two-minute report released Saturday, the NBA announced that Jimmy Butler should have been called for a shooting foul on LeBron James with 1:01 remaining in the fourth quarter for extending his arm and making contact with the side of James’ head on a drive to the hoop when L.A. was trailing 105-104. The missed call ended up being inconsequential as James corralled his own miss and laid the ball in to put L.A. up 106-105 with 58.2 seconds left.


Nuggets not happy with officiating in Game 4

The Lakers made 28 of their 35 free throws, including an 11-for-14 mark by James and a 13-for-14 line by Davis. “I’m going to have to go through the proper channels like they did to see if we can figure out how we can get some more free throws,” said Nuggets coach Michael Malone, whose team shot 23 free throws. The Lakers outrebounded the Nuggets 41-33, including 12-6 on the offensive boards. They outscored the Nuggets 25-6 on second-chance points. “That’s really hard to overcome,” Malone said.

Asked if the Lakers’ tactic of going to the league about foul calls worked, Malone said he didn’t know. “I just know they went 35 [times] and we went 23,” Malone said. “I think late in the game Jamal Murray attacked the basket a few times where it appeared to be contact. We’ll watch the film and send our clips in. We’ll reach out to the NBA and kind of make our points noted. Whether them going through the proper channels affected tonight or not, I have no idea. The NBA does a great job of listening. You hope that next game maybe some of those fouls are called.”

“Respectfully, obviously, they’re trying to do their job,” Murray said when asked what kind of feedback he got back from the officials. “I mean, I did get fouled on a few. We could see the replay clearly. The same thing when [Utah Jazz’s] Rudy Gobert fouled me when we lost Game 4 [in the first round]. … My team shows respect any time you talk to them.” “LeBron is going to go get his,” Murray added. “But we just have to look ahead and play through it. … We’re a young team. We’re the younger team, youngest team, whatever we are. Look at where we’re at. We’re going to have to earn their respect if we’re going to want to prevail.”

The Lakers have presented a case to the NBA that their star, LeBron James, is not nearly getting his fair share of free throws even though they are positive the hard-charging forward is getting fouled plenty by the Denver Nuggets in their Western Conference finals playoff series. “We’re dealing with the fouls through the proper channels with the league,” coach Frank Vogel told the media via videoconference Wednesday after practice. “I think he’s gone to the basket very aggressively, and I’ll just leave it at that.”

So, I asked, how did Lakers coach Frank Vogel see it after he had watched the film? “We were definitely the aggressors in the game, and the box score I have right here has us with 28 (fouls),” Vogel said. “We got called for 28 fouls. They got called for 26.” It was a savvy stance to take, albeit oversimplified. So as Vogel left his media session to rejoin his team, I admitted to him that I hadn’t noticed that the final fouls tally was in the Nuggets’ favor. “I do my research,” he said with a grin.

After getting dunked on and dissed during a 126-114 loss in Game 1 Friday in the Western Conference finals, it’s obvious that the league regards the Nuggets as little more than props in this Lake Show, starring James and Anthony Davis, who hammered Denver with 37 points. It was so ugly and frustrating the entire fourth quarter stunk like garbage time. “I’m not going to sit here and blame it on the refs. That’s not what I’m doing,” Nuggets guard Jamal Murray said. “We’ve got to play through it and earn their respect.”

A day before Game 7, Nuggets coach Michael Malone cited ESPN’s experts, and mentioned how 19 of them predicted the Clippers would win. Not one said the series would advance to a Game 7. “Nobody wants us here,” Nikola Jokic said in his postgame interview. “Nobody thinks we can do something. We prove ourselves and proved everybody we can do something. Next is Lakers another tough opponent for us. We just have to be out there and having fun.”

On the court, the issue made the Denver Nuggets feel frustrated. Off the court, the issue prompted Nuggets guard Jamal Murray to offer sarcastic laughter and coach Mike Malone to offer sarcastic analysis. After suffering a 126-114 loss to the Los Angeles Lakers on Friday in Game 1 of the Western Conference Finals, how do the Nuggets adapt better to whistles? “Just try to play through it. It’s tough,” said Murray, who nearly had has many fouls (four) as assists (five) to go along with 21 points. “They’re going to talk about every call and have conversations and try to manipulate what happens. But you can’t worry about it. It’s going to be we’re the younger team. We’re going to play through it and find a way. We’re not going to go away so easily.”

“They’re not trying to make the wrong call. They are just doing their job,” Murray said. “We’re going to miss shots and they’re going to miss calls. I’m going to make a bad pass, and they might make a bad call. It’s going to happen. There’s no reaction. You play through it. We’ll be all right. I’m not going to sit here and just blame it on the refs. That’s not what I’m doing. You just have to play through it and earn your respect.”

It was the third time during this postseason that a Rockets player was hit below the belt. Sources told ESPN that the Rockets were upset that Oklahoma City Thunder point guard Chris Paul’s jab to Ben McLemore’s groin area in overtime of Game 3 of their first round series — a play extremely similar to Davis’ drive — was not reviewed by the league office. Rockets coach Mike D’Antoni received a technical foul for angrily arguing that the referees should have reviewed the play to determine if it was a flagrant foul, and sources said the Rockets believed a suspension should have been considered for Paul due to his history of similar incidents.

But what happens when a player storms to the sideline certain he didn’t commit a foul? “I try to gauge who it is, meaning how often has he lied to me in the past and how adamant is he about it,” Rivers says. “I mean, I laugh now. I literally laugh. Every game, I see 15 a game, where the players are doing [the finger] and so unless I’m clear visually, I usually just ignore it. I did have one where Kawhi [Leonard], who rarely says something, runs to me and says, ‘I swear I didn’t touch him.’ And we challenged it and we won. After the game, I always say, ‘All right. Credible, he’s credible, not, not, not, not.’ I mean that’s basically what we do. We make fun of it now.”

Often, coaches say, they will rely on instinct. “Sometimes you have to go with your gut, trust your own eyes and what you see out there,” Malone says. And despite their battles with referees, the difficulty of the decision to challenge a call gives some coaches a deeper appreciation for the job. “We sometimes have enough time to look at the video, and my coach is sitting there like, ‘I’m not sure,’” Rivers says. “And think about it, that ref had to make that call in real time. It does make you appreciate the officiating … at least for that moment.”

In Game 3, Paul nails Ben McLemore below the belt and sources say the Rockets were incensed that the league wouldn’t take a closer look at the play seen below. Everyone is aggrieved at this point. What’s more, there’s a strong sense that Paul’s stature within the league — a position that was on full display this week as he led the way in the players’ return to work after the Wednesday walkout — plays a part here. Make up your own mind, but that’s definitely a point of concern in Rockets circles. Especially considering the reality that the NBA is likely on the cusp of some difficult negotiations with the Paul-led National Basketball Players Association this offseason because of these unprecedented circumstances. And yes, if you somehow haven’t heard, Paul has a bit of a history with these sorts of plays.

As for Tucker’s headbutt and the ensuing decision, that was an obvious and necessary call. Sources say the league is investigating that situation, and there could be further discipline coming Tucker’s way. The NBA’s longtime disciplinarian, executive vice president of basketball operations Kiki VanDeWeghe, was sitting front row when this all happened and was glued to his phone after the game was over (Byron Spruell, the president of league operations who oversees this department, is also here).

As Schroder ran through a Tucker screen, he swung his arm between Tucker’s legs, catching him below the belt. Tucker, who was whistled for an illegal screen, walked up behind Schroder, yelling at him and eventually head-butting the back of his head. “First thing was, it was obviously an illegal screen. And it was kind of a bang-bang play,” Thunder coach Billy Donovan said. “P.J. obviously after the play was over kind of head-butted Dennis, so they certainly had to eject him, and I didn’t know if they felt like they needed to eject Dennis because they ejected P.J. But it was a very quick, aggressive play, and I understand with P.J. getting thrown out maybe they felt like Dennis needed to be thrown out. “But again, it was an illegal screen. I’m not even going to speculate or even know to read Dennis’ mind. It was such a bang-bang play, Dennis was just trying to find a way through the screen and got hung up.”

Harrison Wind: No surprise, but the L2M Report says Rudy Gobert fouled Jamal Murray on his drive to the basket with 26 seconds remaining. Nuggets were down 124-120. “Gobert does not maintain verticality and brings his arm down, making contact with Murray’s arm that affects his shot attempt.” pic.twitter.com/rgq00V3spR

Yet, it’s hard to believe that there was that much of a difference in the physicality and aggressive nature in the Lakers over the Blazers Saturday night. The total free throw discrepancy for the game finished at 43 to 18. After the Blazers 116-108 loss, Damian Lillard explained that both teams were physical in Game 3 as he tried to make sense of the difference at the charity stripe. “The discrepancy in free throws is something that is out of our control… Last game we came out — they played a really physical game, a really aggressive game that led to blowout victory for them. But tonight, we came in saying, we wasn’t going to get bullied any and let them out physical and out aggressive us and maybe sometimes we did foul, but they’re a physical team as well.” –Trail Blazers All-Star Damian Lillard

While there may be the occasional moment when a referee will hear something that helps confirm whether a play was a foul or not, officials are mostly relying on the typical things. “I’m so locked in that [it doesn’t impact me],” Capers said. “We have a principle to referee the defender. So when that reach happens, I know if it’s hand and ball, and I know that it’s wrist, and I know if he gets him. “Because, people don’t talk about it, but basketball is a contact sport. We’re trying to figure out if it is marginal and incidental, versus illegal. So as long as I am locked in, and as long as I am doing my job and focused, I see it the same way.”

Referees gave Porzingis and Clippers forward Marcus Morris Sr. double technicals following a confrontation that began when Morris wrapped his arms around Luka Doncic, drawing the ire of the Dallas star. Porzingis confronted Morris, and they were separated after Morris shoved Porzingis. “I saw him getting into Luka’s face and I didn’t like that,” said Porzingis, who had 14 points and six rebounds in 20 minutes before his ejection. “That’s why I reacted. That’s a smart, smart thing to do from their part. I’ve just got to be smarter and control my emotions the next time.”

Did you speak to the league about that? Mark Cuban: I did. They investigated it and mentioned they couldn’t show it. That yr was the final yr, as a result of I raised such hell, when many of the refereeing assignments within the finals have been based mostly on seniority. Now there’s an try and make it based mostly on job efficiency. As soon as I went via the record, proper round that 2006 timeframe, of all of the just lately employed referees. I used to be curious the place we have been hiring these folks from. These weren’t refs that have been within the pressure-cooker video games, Indiana-Purdue, Duke-North Carolina video games. They have been from these small conferences. I’m like, Why are we hiring refs from these small conferences? Seems that the man who was answerable for officiating for these small conferences was the previous coach of the individual chargeable for hiring the referees. There was this connection between the 2 of them, and so he wasn’t hiring one of the best. We employed any individual from the Rucker League! I don’t even wish to go into all the small print. It was a joke.


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January 16, 2021 | 5:54 am EST Update

Andre Drummond addresses trade rumors

Instead of sulking with his successor standing on the sidelines in street clothes, Drummond gave everyone — Cleveland’s front office, Bickerstaff, the rest of the NBA — something to think about, even if he didn’t enter the night specifically looking to prove a point. “I play the same way each and every night,” Drummond said. “The trade, it is what it is. There’s nothing I can do about that. If I do get traded, I don’t control that either. I’m just here to play basketball with whatever jersey I have on. That’s all I can focus on right now.”
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Bickerstaff also hears the trade chatter. He’s talked with Drummond about it. “The optics are obvious,” Bickerstaff admitted. “But Dre and I have developed a great relationship up to this point. It’s a relationship that’s built on trust and honesty.” Drummond was asked about his reaction to the deal. He used the term “happy,” calling Allen and Prince “very, very good players.” And he backed up those words.
“The reason I’m having so much fun is I’m in a new environment, I’m in a new city and I love the guys that are here,” Drummond said. “It’s hard not to play hard here, having 12 guys that want to give it their all each and every night. It makes it fun to be out there.” Before the front office takes the next (logical) step toward unclogging the frontcourt by moving either Drummond or cheaper veteran JaVale McGee, who is also on an expiring contract and will garner interest, it’s worth considering how that would affect the team’s chances of staying competitive.
Justin Kubatko: The @Cleveland Cavaliers Andre Drummond has recorded his 43rd career game with at least 20 points and 20 rebounds, breaking a tie with Hakeem Olajuwon for the third-most such games since the ABA-NBA merger: 109 – Moses Malone. 51 – Dwight Howard. 43 – Drummond. 42 – Olajuwon. 41 – Charles Barkley.

Luka Doncic upset after Mavs fail to call timeout in loss vs. Bucks

Dallas Mavericks superstar Luka Doncic animatedly expressed his dismay that coach Rick Carlisle didn’t use the team’s final timeout during a critical possession in the final minute of a 112-109 road loss to the Milwaukee Bucks on Friday night. The possession, which occurred with the Mavs trailing by two points, ended with Kristaps Porzingis badly missing a contested 3-pointer with 10.4 seconds remaining. After the Mavs took a foul seconds later, Doncic angrily gestured toward the Dallas bench, repeatedly forming a T with his hands to indicate that a timeout should have been called.
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“It’s Coach’s decision, but if we would have made the shot, everything would be good,” said Doncic, who had 29 points, 9 rebounds and 13 assists in the loss, accounting for 61 of the Mavs’ 81 points when he was on the floor. “… But I don’t know. It’s Coach’s decision to call a timeout or no, so I think it’s good.” Doncic said he had not discussed the situation with Carlisle yet and declined to say if he intended to have that conversation with his coach. “If we talk, we’re going to talk,” Doncic said. “It’s not going to be in the media. It’s between us.”