In their quest for the eighth and final NBA playoff spot, the Denver Nuggets benefited from a bad call. In fact, in the latest “Last two minute report,” the NBA admitted the key mistake.
Late in the game against the New Orleans Pelicans, the Nuggets were nursing a two-point lead. New Orleans’ Solomon Hill knocked the ball away from Danilo Galinari as Denver’s guard was bringing the ball up the court. While Galinari retrieved the ball, it caused him to take an eight-second violation.
The problem? The infraction was not called.
The possession resulted in a trip to the free throw line. Denver’s Nikola Jokic split the free throws, giving his team a three-point lead.
The loss officially eliminated New Orleans but in reality, that was going to happen anyway. The win, however, could have implications on the Nuggets’ chase for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference.
Denver trails the Portland Trail Blazers by one game with four to play. Additionally, Portland has the tiebreaker. Obviously, being two back would be a tall task even with a tiebreaker. Without it, the Nuggets would have been facing a nearly impossible task.
One thing is important to note.
None of this is to say that Denver would have lost to New Orleans had the right call been made. The Pelicans could have turned the ball over or missed a shot on the next posession. Heck, it’s not hard to draw up a scenario where the Nuggets would have won by even more.
But New Orleans should have had been facing a two-shot deficit with 42 seconds left and possession of the ball. That’s crystal clear.
And really, the fact that it’s crystal clear makes the no-call so hard to believe.
For fractions like five-second violations and three seconds in the key, some allowances can be made. Those counts are up to the referees, who may not be counting precise seconds. That’s understood.
But eight second violations should be easy. Just look at the running clock. In this case, the referees had both the game clock and the shot clock to look at.
Of course, the NBA’s last two minute report does nothing but acknowledge the bad call. Really, that’s all that can be done. But this can’t be treated like a typical missed call. This was a mistake on what should have been an obvious infraction.
These kinds of missed calls don’t exactly do a lot to inspire confidence in the NBA’s officials right as the playoffs are beginning.