Refs missed critical call, NBA admits
DALLAS -- The NBA office acknowledged that Golden State Warriors center Jermaine O'Neal should have been called for goaltending on a critical, controversial block of Dallas Mavericks guard Monta Ellis' potential go-ahead shot late in the Warriors' overtime win Tuesday night.
"Upon review at the league office, we have found that a shot taken by Dallas' Monta Ellis with 16.0 seconds remaining in overtime was on the way down when initially contacted and ruled a block by Golden State's Jermaine O'Neal, and should have been ruled a goaltend," NBA president of basketball operations Rod Thorn said in a statement. "The exact trajectory of the ball when touched was impossible to ascertain with the naked eye, and the play was not reviewable."
The score was tied when Ellis drove from the right wing and attempted a floater over O'Neal. Warriors guard Stephen Curry hit the game-winning jumper with a tenth of a second remaining on the ensuing possession.
The loss dropped Dallas to ninth place in the Western Conference standings, a half-game behind the Memphis Grizzlies and Phoenix Suns. The Mavs would have been alone in seventh place, only a half-game behind sixth-place Golden State, with a win over the Warriors.
Mavs star Dirk Nowitzki said he requested an explanation of the non-call from the officiating crew of Danny Crawford, Sean Corbin and Eric Dalen after the loss and was told that the whistle wasn't blown because the shot would have landed two feet short of the basket.
"If that's the case, then he can get it out of the air, but where I was from, I think it had a chance to at least hit the rim," Nowitzki said after the game. "That's a goaltend to me."
This is the third time this season the NBA office has acknowledged critical missed calls late in close games involving the Mavs, but Dallas benefitted on the other two occasions.
After Dallas' 100-98 win in Minnesota on Dec. 31, the league acknowledged that a foul should have been called against Shawn Marion in the closing seconds that would have awarded Timberwolves star Kevin Love with two free throws. After the Mavs' 110-107 win over the New Orleans Pelicans on Jan. 11, the league acknowledged that Ellis should have been called for a foul on Austin Rivers' 3-point attempt in the final second.
Mavs owner Mark Cuban, who has been fined almost $2 million during his 14-year tenure in large part for publicly criticizing officiating, voiced his displeasure from his courtside seat after Tuesday's non-call but declined to comment after the game.
Cuban has praised the NBA office for becoming more transparent in regards to officiating, but he has pushed for that transparency to extend beyond critical blown calls in close games.