Kobe Bryant and the Los Angeles Lakers got away with one Wednesday night.
The NBA admitted Thursday that Bryant should have been called for a foul in the final second of the Lakers' 120-117 win over the Minnesota Timberwolves. Minnesota guard Ricky Rubio was attempting a long 3-point attempt, and Bryant hacked him on the left arm, but the referees made no call. The shot missed, giving the Lakers the victory.
"Video review by the league office confirmed that Kobe Bryant fouled Rubio while Rubio was in his shooting motion," the NBA said in a statement. "Rubio should have been awarded three free throws."
Had all three free throws been good, the teams would have gone to overtime.
"What do you want me to say?" Rubio said after the game. Referring to the referees, he added, "We have to earn the respect."
Bryant said he didn't believe he fouled Rubio.
As it is, the Lakers escaped with a key victory in their quest to sneak into the playoffs. Los Angeles was 37-35 heading into a Thursday night game at Milwaukee, one game ahead of the Utah Jazz for the eighth and final Western Conference playoff spot.
Just before Rubio's late shot, Bryant missed a free throw that would have sealed the game for the Lakers.