SAN ANTONIO -- Officials said after the Oklahoma City Thunder's 98-97 win over the San Antonio Spurs on Monday night that they should have called an offensive foul on a controversial late-game sequence.
"On the floor, we did not see a foul on the play," lead referee Ken Mauer told a pool reporter. "However, upon review we realize and we agree we should have had an offensive foul on the play. It's a play we've never seen before, ever. We should have had an offensive foul on the play."
The sequence in question involved Oklahoma City's Dion Waiters on an inbounds play with 13 seconds left to play with his team nursing a one-point advantage. Replays showed Waiters use an elbow on Spurs guard Manu Ginobili to clear the space needed to pass the ball to Kevin Durant, who was subsequently stripped by Danny Green.
Patty Mills missed the ensuing corner 3-pointer, and Spurs power forward LaMarcus Aldridge lost control of the rebound as Kawhi Leonard's scramble for the loose ball proved fruitless as the buzzer sounded.
Had an offensive foul been called on Waiters, possession would have been given to the Spurs, Mauer said.
Oklahoma City's victory evened the best-of-seven series at one win apiece, and the wild late sequence led to Spurs coach Gregg Popovich walking off the court at the conclusion of the contest screaming at game officials.
"Something certainly happened on the sideline I thought," Popovich said.
"Did you see it?" Ginobili said. "I was trying to pressure the ball, and he kind of created room with his elbow. It's a very awkward play. It doesn't happen very often. So I guess they didn't see it. With all that, we complain about that, but what can we do? We had the ball. We had a great shot. We had a few other opportunities. So things happened."
Popovich complained to officials after the game, and said "no" when asked whether the referees provided any clarification for why they didn't make a call. Asked whether it will mean anything when the NBA calls to inform him they made a mistake on the call, Popovich said, "No, it won't mean anything if they do that. The game's over."
Ginobili shared similar thoughts, and wasn't sure whether the play in question constituted an offensive foul. While replays showed Waiters use the elbow on Ginobili to clear space, they also showed the San Antonio guard's foot on the line, which could have resulted in a delay call from officials.
"I don't know what it is to tell you the truth; what type of a violation it is," Ginobili said. "It's got to be something. But again, it's not that play that decided anything because we got the steal, we got a shot, we got an offensive rebound. I really don't know. I've never seen a play like that. I don't know what should have been called or if it should have been called anything. It doesn't matter. It's over. We're not gonna be able to change it. Nobody's gonna change it. It's 1-1. We've got to go to OKC and try to win a game."
Waiters, meanwhile, said he was too "caught up in the game," to notice whether a violation occurred.
"I really don't know what happened, to be honest," Waiters said.