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Dallas files protest with league over Hawks game

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9.7 seconds for justice!

Dallas Mavericks v Atlanta Hawks Photo by Todd Kirkland/Getty Images

First reported by the New York Times’ Marc Stein, the Dallas Mavericks have filed an official protest with the NBA over the officiating the team feels cost them the game against the Atlanta Hawks on Saturday night. Brad Townsend of the Dallas Morning News confirmed the report.

The official protest marks the second high profile instance of a front office going to such measures this season. The first came with Houston’s unsuccessful protest of their loss against San Antonio in which a James Harden dunk that clearly went through the basket upon replay, was disallowed and deemed non-reviewable.

The protest from the Rockets was eventually dismissed by the league, which stated, essentially, that the Rockets had plenty of time to make up for the officiating error in what ended up being a double-overtime loss. Certainly not an answer many in Houston would find fulfilling, but fair enough, I suppose.

Even so, such was not the case in the Mavericks/Hawks game. With just 9.7 seconds remaining in the game, the refs called Dorian Finney-Smith for goaltending. After the whistle, the ball ended up in the hands of Atlanta’s John Collins, leading to an easy dunk and a 4 point Hawks’ lead. The confusion came when the goaltending call was reversed, but the dunk proceeding it counted as good, despite the play having been blown dead.

Owner Mark Cuban did not hold back with his criticism of the game’s officiating, both via Twitter and in the post-game press conference, so perhaps it shouldn’t come as a surprise that the ending is being challenged. On top of the fines he’ll likely be facing from the league (it feels like 2004 again!), the protest will cost an additional $10,000. However, Townsend noted after the news broke, in over 35 official protests that have been levied by teams in the past, only 3 have been successful — the last coming back in 2007. So maybe we’re due for one to lead off the new decade.

Mavs fans, no doubt, would relish a chance for a do-over to avoid taking a loss in a game Dallas controlled throughout much of the night, only to eventually run out of gas in the 4th quarter of a back-to-back, fielding a depleted roster. (A rotation that only got more thin after the game started and Jalen Brunson took a hard foul on the first possession of the game that lead to a dislocated shoulder — another call Dallas is bringing to the league’s attention, seperate of their protest to the finish of the game.)

The part of me that yearns for some semblance of justice and fairness, particularly in the realm of sport where such things tend to be black and white, would love to see the Mavericks get a fair shot at tying the game up. The Dallas protest proposes the teams start with a jumpball and replay the last 9.7 seconds of the 4th quarter with Dallas trailing by 2. It would certainly be interesting if for no other reason than to see two teams get dragged back out to center court for 9.7 seconds and a jump ball that could just end up being controlled by the Hawks anyway.

However, the part of me who values my mental health would love to see this all simply recede to the back of my mind and be forgotten entirely... that is until the end of the season comes and the Mavs are one game out of 6th place and the chance to play, say, Houston as opposed to the dual-Megatron death squads that have coalesced in Los Angeles.