Already dealing with injuries to three regulars, the last thing the Memphis Grizzlies needed was a problem with the officials.
Memphis tries to rebound from a disheartening loss when it continues a four-game trip against the last-place Utah Jazz.
It appeared the Grizzlies were headed to overtime at Sacramento on Tuesday, but a controversial call by the officials left them with an 85-82 defeat.
With 1.4 seconds remaining and the score tied at 82, James Posey tipped Peja Stojakovic’s inbounds pass into the air, but the clock didn’t start until Mike Bibby grabbed the loose ball. Bibby turned and shot a game-winning 3-pointer with plenty of time to spare.
“They did not start the clock, and the ball was deflected,” Memphis coach Mike Fratello said. “Therefore, (regulation) should have been over, and we should be in overtime right now playing. But because they do not have the power to correct an incorrect decision, we have a team with a loss right now that still should be playing.”
That the Grizzlies had won four in a row is all the more impressive considering they have been without leading scorer Pau Gasol since Jan. 22, forward Stromile Swift since Feb. 16 and forward Bonzi Wells since March 1.
There is no timetable for Gasol or Wells’ return, but Swift was expected to practice Thursday and a decision on his availability was to be made depending on how his sprained left ankle responds to the workout.
“It’s a lot better,” Swift said. “I’m doing some running in the pool. I also tried to shoot and tried to get the motion back. Hopefully, I can come back on this trip.”
Because of the injuries, Brian Cardinal has moved into a starting role and played well. In his last seven games, all starts, Cardinal is averaging 17.1 points and 4.7 rebounds.
Unlike Memphis, Utah has no playoff aspirations and would be content with just escaping last place in the Northwest Division.
The Jazz shot a dismal 37.0 percent (27-of-73) from the field in an 89-83 loss to visiting Indiana on Tuesday, their third straight loss.
“I seems to be one of those things, kind of a repeat,” Utah coach Jerry Sloan said. “We get back in the ball game and have a chance, then we turn the ball over and miss some shots. We really don’t give ourselves much of a chance.”
Memphis had lost five straight in Utah before posting a 110-94 victory there Jan. 22.