Each of the Mavericks’ starters scored in double-figures. But it was Luka Doncic and Kristaps Porzingis who led the way for Dallas, as they do. The duo combined for 61 points.
Yet, it was Portland’s Damian Lillard who stole the show. He dropped 61 points by himself, leading the Blazers to a 134-131 victory to keep their playoff hopes alive.
The game should be an instant regular-season classic. Unfortunately, the referees and their whistles left their fingerprints all over the game, tainting the outcome.
While there are many plays throughout the game in which questionable calls were made, one stands out. With 4.5 seconds left in regulation, Doncic passed to Trey Burke, who was cutting baseline. Burke then found Dorian Finney-Smith open in the corner.
Dallas trailed 132-131 as Finney-Smith rose and shot. Moments later, the ball found the bottom of the nylon. The shot should have given the Mavericks a lead. However, the refs waived it off.
According to the closest official, Burke had committed an offensive foul against Lillard, negating the shot attempt. The foul gave the ball back to the Blazers and allowed them to seal the win.
The play was a pivotal moment in the game. Perhaps one that shouldn’t have been left in the hands of a referee and his whistle.
After the game, the Mavericks brought up that sequence of events repeatedly. Here’s what they had to say about the play:
“I don’t like to talk about the refs on camera. You know how it goes, fines get thrown around, and stuff like that. To me, I didn’t think that I fouled him or pushed off. It was just a clever move on his part.
“I think if it was on the other end, hopefully they would call it on the other end if I was to do that, or if someone on our team was to do that, but I just tried to shut him off. I knew that he was at least going to be able to contest the shot and I thought that I just put my arm out. As soon as I put my arm out, he threw his head back and fell, and the refs thought it was an offensive foul. I don’t know.”
“I haven’t looked at it. The people who had the iPad said that it was clearly a flop. Great players in the moment, they know how to create that situation. If it’s a flop, maybe he’ll get fined. But it doesn’t help us in the context of the game. There were so many good elements to that play, it was unfortunate for us. There were a lot of crazy things going on in that game with all of the scoring and all of the activity going on with the referees.”
“I don’t know. I don’t know what to say. I guess they call what they see out there, but I think, especially on that last play, I don’t think it was a foul. I don’t think you call those fouls in that moment. If we made the three, we would have gone up two. They can make mistakes, and we’ve just got to keep on going.”