Denver and OKC capped off an incredible start to this year’s NBA Playoffs last night, a weekend that saw nothing but exciting, wire-to-wire games.
Naturally, the refs had to screw up what was arguably the most entertaining tilt of the entire bunch.
With just over a minute remaining, Kendrick Perkins (with his hand touching both the net and rim) clearly made a basket interference violation by tipping in Russell Westbrook’s missed jumper. The illegal basket seemed to deflate the Nuggets, and OKC held on for a tough Game 1 victory behind Kevin Durant’s 41 points.
George Karl and his players were understandably upset following the game, and seemed to blame much of the loss on the missed call by the referees.
From Yahoo! come the angry quotes:
[George] Karl didn’t wait long to review the video evidence after the game. Nuggets officials then sent a text message to Stu Jackson, the NBA’s executive vice president of basketball operations, complaining about the non-call. “Three-fourths of the ball is still in the cylinder when Perkins touches it,” Karl said. “Three-fourths of the ball, not half of the ball. What can I say? It’s tough. When you fight hard, it’s hard because guys give you everything you possibly can give there.”
A goaltending violation would have given the Nuggets the ball with a one-point lead and the final minute approaching. Karl believes the Nuggets were so upset by the non-call that their play was affected the rest of the game. Following a timeout, Nuggets forward Kenyon Martin walked to the scorer’s table and complained. Fifteen seconds later, he lofted an errant 21-foot jump shot. “It was goaltending, man, all the way around,” Martin said. “Everybody in the building and everybody on TV saw it.” Said Karl: “I was in shock. Because of it, I don’t think we executed very well in the last minute of the game. It kind of froze us.”
This has the makings of a long, wild and testy series, with both teams lobbing verbal grenades at one another seemingly every day.
Here’s to hoping this is the last time the refs’ unfortunate role in the proceedings is mentioned.