The Dallas Mavericks notched up one of their most dramatic wins of the season on Thursday with a double-overtime win over the Los Angeles Lakers, but not without controversy along the way.
This controversy was not softened when the NBA released its final two-minute report a day later.
Neither team was thrilled with the refereeing of the game, but the Lakers were particularly furious when their comeback nearly ended the game in regulation time. The biggest point of contention was an eventual game winner by Lakers winger Troy Brown Jr., who was blocked by the Mavericks’ Tim Hardaway Jr. to send the game into overtime.
LeBron James was particularly furious. According to ESPN’s Dave McMenamin, Brown offered a diplomatic response to reporters in the Lakers locker room after the game, but when a reporter followed referee Joshua Tiven’s explanation – specifically that Hardaway only “high five contact“, which is legal – James stepped in from 20 feet away:
“No, that’s a fucking fault,” James said loudly so everyone in the room could hear him. “It’s a foul. Whatever happens [Brown] said, it’s a fucking fault. This shit is blatant, and they should have called it.”
Not the words of a man happy to have lost a game 119-115 and fell to 19-23 this season. It would have been a punch for a game even with perfect officiating, as Luke Doncic hit the last-minute 3-pointer to force both first and second overtime.
The NBA confirmed the arbitration was over a day later, but not as James and the Lakers might have hoped. The final two-minute report identified a whopping seven missed calls and no-calls by officials in the final two minutes of regulation and both overtime periods, but claimed the no-call on Hardaway was correct.
The NBA’s explanation supported Tiven’s comments after the game:
Hardaway Jr. (DAL) legally challenges Brown Jr.’s (LAL) jump shot attempt and makes contact with the ball. Any “high-five” contact is considered incidental.
If the Lakers wanted something to feel angrier about, the league admitted officials missed two calls on the same possession late in the first overtime. With less than 15 seconds remaining, James drove to the basket while guarded by Doncic, but was blocked by an assist Christian Wood. A scramble for the ball allowed Doncic to win it back to force a double overtime.
In the L2M report, the NBA noted that Wood “initiates contact with James’ left arm before blocking the shot”, while Doncic initiates contact with Wenyen Gabriel, which “affects his ability to control rebounds”. . Basically, two fouls were missed on one shot.
Of course, the Lakers also benefited from some officiating mishaps. The other five missed calls in the report benefited Los Angeles, with Mavericks owner Mark Cuban calling the performance “worst match refereed” on Twitter.