For the umpteenth time in his long refereeing career, Joey Crawford made himself the center of attention at the most inopportune time. He inexplicably delayed a critical free-throw by Kevin Durant in overtime of a crushing Game 5 loss the Memphis Grizzlies, and neither team could understand Joey’s thinking. Per NBA.com:
For the first time in NBA history, a playoff series has had four consecutive overtime games. The suffocating Memphis Grizzlies have won three, including Tuesday’s 100-99 thriller in which the game’s most devastating scorer and sure-fire MVP amazingly served as a decoy for the majority of the final six minutes of the fourth quarter.
Then in overtime came the incredible. After Durant made the first of two free throws to close to a one-point deficit with 27.6 seconds left, he was iced by veteran referee Joey Crawford, who snatched the ball from Durant’s hands at the stripe, marched to the scorer’s table and dropped a verbal hammer on the scoreboard operator who apparently failed to show that both teams were in the bonus on the overheard scoreboard.
“I looked at KD and we were both like, ‘What is Joey doing,’ we had no idea,” Memphis guard Mike Conley said. “But, hey, I guess it worked.”
Durant, an 87.3-percent foul shooter, missed the potential game-tying free throw, and the game ended with that same one-point differential. A few moments later his 3-point attempt to win thudded off the back iron and Serge Ibaka‘s breathtaking put-back was ruled too late after a replay review.
“I was just trying to stay focused and knock the free throw down. Unfortunately, I didn’t,” said Durant, who missed half of his six free throw attempts in the game. “I don’t know what happened. I have to make that free throw.”
Said OKC coach Scott Brooks: “It was an awkward situation, I’ll tell you that.”