You might have missed it on Tuesday night — y’know, there was some other stuff going on that drew a fair bit of attention — but the Memphis Grizzlies knocked off the Denver Nuggets, 108-107, thanks to a thrilling inbounds lob hook-up between passer Vince Carter and finisher Marc Gasol with 0.7 seconds remaining in regulation:
Before that brilliant bit of inbounds magic, though, the game had gotten pretty danged ragged over the preceding 13 seconds. Nuggets guards Gary Harris and Emmanuel Mudiay sprung a timely trap on Grizzlies point guard Mike Conley, leading to a steal and a Mudiay dunk that put Denver up by one with seven seconds left. After a timeout, the Grizzlies then coughed it up again, this time with swingman James Ennis tossing the ball out of bounds as he tried to drive into the paint, giving the Nuggets the ball back with 4.7 seconds remaining.
All Denver had to do was get the ball inbounds, get fouled, hit some free throws and head home with the W. Instead, though, this happened:
… which gave the Grizzlies one last shot, which Carter and Gasol made count.
“Give them credit,” Nuggets head coach Mike Malone said after the game, according to Chris Dempsey of the Denver Post. “We couldn’t get the ball inbounds, had the late turnover and they executed late in the game.”
That Memphis had the opportunity to execute on that final play, though, was a bone of contention after the game:
Immediately after the game Mudiay was adamant in telling me he hadn't touched the ball.
— Chris Dempsey (@chrisadempsey) November 10, 2016
And, evidently, the sophomore guard had a point. From the NBA’s Last Two Minutes report breakdown of Nuggets-Grizzlies on Wednesday afternoon:
Angles reviewed in the Replay Center appeared to show Mudiay (DEN) touch the ball prior to it going out of bounds. The call on the floor was therefore confirmed as MEM possession. However, upon review of an additional angle postgame, it was determined that Mudiay did not touch the ball and possession should have been awarded to DEN.
Which is to say: upon further review, the Grizzlies shouldn’t have had the ball with 0.7 seconds left and a chance to go for the win. That sound you hear is Nuggets fans saying, in unison, “Thanks for the useless after-the-fact corrective, NBA. We’re still 3-4 instead of 4-3, right? Cool.”
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Then again, one must hear both sides. The L2M report also identifies two separate violations on the Harris steal/Mudiay dunk that gave Denver back the lead — Harris making contact with Conley’s arm after the inbound, affecting his “rhythm/speed/balance/quickness,” and Mudiay took two extra steps on his breakaway — that went uncalled.
So, two points given, two points taken away. All’s fair in love, basketball and not getting important calls right despite multiple referees on the floor and in a replay booth with multiple video angles at their disposal all having a crack at it, right? (NOTE: Your answer to this question likely depends on whether you root for the Grizzlies or Nuggets, or whether you work for the NBA or the National Basketball Referees Association.)
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