- Tim MacMahon, ESPN Staff Writer
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DALLAS -- Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban, who has paid more than $1 million in NBA fines in large part due to criticizing officiating, couldn't keep biting his tongue.
The Mavericks' 95-86 home loss to the Western Conference-leading Oklahoma City Thunder -- which featured Dallas coach Rick Carlisle's ejection after being called for two separate technical fouls early in the fourth quarter, the second of which was whistled after he inadvertently kicked the ball into the American Airlines Center crowd -- caused Cuban to complain about what he considers an epidemic of poor officiating in this lockout-condensed season.
"Look, I haven't said a whole lot about the officiating in a long, long time, but I haven't seen it this bad in a long, long time," Cuban told ESPNDallas.com in the Mavericks' weight room after the loss. "Guys miss calls; that's part of the game. You're not always going to have a great crew. Officials have got to learn that's part of the game.
"But these were officials that have been part of the league for years, and it was just off-the-charts bad. And, if no one ever says anything, nothing ever happens."
The crew of Ron Garretson, Michael Smith and Mark Ayotte called Carlisle for his first technical 27 seconds into the fourth quarter, when he stepped into the path of an official to protest a no-call when Dallas guard Delonte West crashed to the floor after Thunder forward Serge Ibaka registered one of his career-high 10 blocks on a driving layup.
Carlisle's second technical foul was called after he kicked a ball that landed in the stands while he was angry about a no-call with a little less than 10 minutes remaining, when Oklahoma City's Nick Collison stole the ball from Mavs guard Jason Terry in transition, leading to a breakaway dunk for Thunder guard Russell Westbrook.
"Those weren't even the worst calls," Cuban said, citing crunch-time no-calls on drives by Terry and point guard Rodrigue Beaubois among other plays in a game in which the Thunder had a 33-25 edge on free throws attempted.
Carlisle opened his postgame news conference by apologizing for kicking the ball into the stands.
"I want to apologize to our franchise, Mark, our fans," said Carlisle, who walked over to the baseline to apologize to fans in the area -- including a young boy -- where the ball landed before leaving the court to a standing ovation. "The incident where the ball got kicked into the stands -- that can't happen. My intent was not to kick it into the stands, I was trying to kick it to the referee, but I'm not a very good kick. But, that can't happen; the officials made the right call on that one. That's a regrettable situation."
Cuban said he didn't have a problem with Carlisle's actions and was not concerned about the NBA, which fined Utah Jazz forward Derrick Favors $25,000 for throwing the ball into the stands near the Dallas bench in a recent loss to the Mavericks, possibly suspending the coach.
"No, because it wasn't an intentional kick into the stands, right?" Cuban said. "I think he was just trying to drop kick to the officials and it got away from him. It was just wide right."
Cuban is concerned about what he considers poor quality of officiating this season, which he said might be affected by the stressful travel schedule of the condensed season.
"It all comes down to this: I understand that it's tough for the officials now," Cuban said. "They're going through the same travel stress as everybody else, but there's absolutely no transparency right now. I mean, you get games like tonight where it was just horrible. Who knows, I'm not saying it impacted the game, but you can just start naming the calls.
"All I'm saying is some of these guys are bad. Let me rephrase that. Some of these guys are having really bad nights, and it's having an impact. The league's got to come out and say, 'OK, look, we understand they're going through some tough travel or whatever. It's just the way it is.' Otherwise, if that's not an impact, you have to wonder how some of these crews are still on the court."
Cuban said he's been trying to give officials the benefit of the doubt because of the difficult travel circumstances, but he's frustrated by the lack of action from the league and willing to risk another significant fine to speak up about it.
"If no one ever says anything, nothing ever happens," Cuban said. "We turn in stuff not after every game, but we turn in stuff all the time and we get 'inconclusive; inconclusive; yeah, we missed this; yeah, we got it right.' That's all fine and good, but there's nobody reporting to us on accountability. And that needs to change.
"There's a lot of guys and teams that aren't having great starts to the season and there's a lot of crews that aren't having great starts to the season. The league needs to make some adjustments, because you can't have it like this all the time."
In this particular game, Cuban's issues weren't primarily with the calls that went the Thunder's way. He was upset that the Mavericks, who shot 35.7 percent from the floor, weren't awarded more trips to the free throw line despite being aggressive, especially late in the game. Cuban is also concerned about officiating inconsistency throughout the season.
"I mean, it's just ridiculous," Cuban said. "Something needs to be done; someone needs to stand up and say something. So here I is."
Tim MacMahon covers the Mavericks for ESPNDallas.com.
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