San Antonio Spurs fans are likely licking their wounds right about now, still stinging from an NBA Finals Game 6 that saw the boys in black and grey snatch defeat from the jaws of victory thanks to some late-game errors and some timely shooting by a Miami Heat team desperate to save its season. But some Spurs supporters might be sour at one particular play late in Game 6's overtime session on which they might feel their favorite squad got the short end of the stick:
With 31.3 seconds left in overtime and the Heat leading 101-100, Miami inbounds the ball, rags some clock and, after a couple of Heat screens, Dwyane Wade looks away from Ray Allen coming open off a curl to take a stepback 21-footer that misses. (Naturally.) Spurs small forward Kawhi Leonard rebounds the miss with 12 seconds left and bowls it up the floor to Manu Ginobili. San Antonio had a timeout, but coach Gregg Popovich elected not to use it to get point guard Tony Parker (who appeared to be totally exhausted) back on the floor.
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Instead, Ginobili — who'd had a rough go of it to that point, with seven turnovers in 34 1/2 minutes — is free to attack Allen off the dribble, and he does, crossing left to get to the middle of the floor and toward the paint ahead of a back-checking Wade. Ginobili gathers, launches into a sea of white jerseys ... and loses the ball, with Allen gaining possession and forcing San Antonio to foul with 1.9 seconds left. Allen would go on to make his two free throws, putting Miami up three; the Spurs' try for the tie came up empty when Chris Bosh made his game-sealing block on Danny Green to close Game 6. (Spurs fans might not be thrilled about that play, either.)
Ginobili and Popovich were absolutely livid on the floor, contending that Allen had fouled the Argentinian by making contact with his right arm on the reach-in that resulted in Ginobili losing possession. Neither player nor coach commented on the play in their postgame press conferences, but teammate Tim Duncan echoed their on-court criticism in his media session.
"Honestly, the last play down the stretch there, it can go either way," Duncan said. "We obviously believe it was a foul going down the middle. We get two free throws and we're talking about something different here, if that happens."
It's a really tough play for the refs to officiate in real time, especially when one (Ken Mauer, yellow arrow) is trailing the play after Wade's shot ...
Ken Mauer will be trailing the play. (Screencap via NBA)
... and a second (Joey Crawford, also a yellow arrow) is effectively screened off by the bodies of Allen and Ginobili from his vantage point on the right sideline:
What Joey Crawford and Mike Callahan were looking at. (Screencap via NBA)
The key here is the third zebra, Mike Callahan, whose sightline to the ball is marked
Read More »from Did Ray Allen foul Manu Ginobili in the final seconds of OT in Game 6? (Video)