Wizards in ‘utter disbelief’ after officials miss Nets coach touching live ball

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Wizards in ‘utter disbelief’ of no-call when Nets coach tips pass originally appeared on NBC Sports Washington

The Wizards’ comeback bid against the Brooklyn Nets fell just short Wednesday as Washington missed two shots on its final possession to lose 119-118 in D.C. There was one possession, however, earlier in the fourth quarter where the Nets got away with a technical foul.

With just under six minutes left in the game, the Wizards faced a 109-103 deficit. Spencer Dinwiddie handled the ball at the 3-point line and attempted a pass to Kyle Kuzma in the corner, but Nets coach David Vanterpool stuck his hand out from the bench and forced a slight misdirection. It was enough for Kuzma to bobble the ball, which was recovered by Nets forward Kessler Edwards.

The lost possession proved to be critical with the game coming down to only point. In his postgame press conference, standing head coach Joseph Blair — coaching in place of Wes Unseld Jr. while he’s in the NBA’s health and safety protocols — didn’t hold back.

“You asked me if he ‘may have’ touched it,” Blair said. “There’s no ‘may have.’ He did. My reaction was utter disbelief. I’ve never seen, in my very long time in basketball, something happen like that that the referees didn’t see. Nobody’s perfect and mistakes will be made, I get that, but I think in a game like this with the bench conduct being a point of emphasis this year that it’s hard to swallow them missing something like that.

“I do understand that regardless there’s tons of things we could’ve done better in the game and it should’ve never come down to us complaining about something like that but I will say that, you know, this is the best league in the world. They had to be better than that and nothing against that referee, and quite frankly I think he’s a good referee and a really good person.”

When asked what kind of explanation he received from the referees, Blair said he was told, “If it happened, he didn’t see it.” Kuzma pleaded his case while the ball was still live, but his complaints didn’t warrant a video replay. The Wizards had already used their coach’s challenge earlier in the game, so they played on.

Kuzma wasn’t thrilled with the decision, either.

With the loss, the Wizards fell to 23-22 on the season. They’re back in action Friday at home against the Toronto Raptors.