Officials say they missed a late foul call on play that ended in Timberwolves turnover

It was one of the turnovers that helped doom Minnesota’s late-game collapse in Game 2 of the Western Conference finals on Friday.

Minnesota was leading by two when Anthony Edwards found himself in traffic on the perimeter and fired a pass high to Jaden McDaniels on the baseline. McDaniels jumped up to snatch the ball while keeping his feet in bounds. Then Dallas guard Kyrie Irving smacked the ball out of McDaniels’ hands and out of bounds.

The on-court ruling was the ball was out of bounds off Irving, meaning Minnesota would have retained possession with 47 seconds to play and five seconds left on the shot clock. But Irving pled with Mavericks coach Jason Kidd to challenge the out-of-bounds ruling. He signaled that he hit McDaniels’ wrist, not the ball.

“It looks like it was also a foul, right? Of course,” Wolves coach Chris Finch said. “It looked like he was fouled, but they can’t — or didn’t — account for that in the call.”

Irving was right. Dallas challenged and, sure enough, replay confirmed the ball went out of bounds off McDaniels. It was Dallas’ ball.

“Postgame review, we did see illegal contact from Irving to the forearm of McDaniels that should have been called a foul,” Game 2 crew chief Zach Zarba told a pool reporter after the game.

Zarba also noted it’s not within NBA rules for the officials to tack on a foul call after reviewing a play. The Wolves could not have challenged that, either, because you cannot challenge a foul that was not whistled.

The Mavericks did not score on their ensuing possession. But had Minnesota maintained possession in that moment, it could’ve potentially scored. And, had the officials called a foul, McDaniels would’ve gone to the free-throw line with a chance to put Minnesota up four with 47 seconds to play.

It’s possible the Mavericks would’ve won, anyway. The Wolves certainly didn’t do much to help themselves in the game’s closing moments. But Minnesota would’ve been in a more advantageous position to hold onto the victory at that point.

But that’s irrelevant now.

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