Unfortunately, the game also featured several questionable calls by the officiating crew. Referees leaving a heavy mark on games has become something of an issue inside the NBA Bubble. Monday night, they may have changed the outcome of a playoff game.
Early on, they hit Mavericks center Kristaps Porzingis with a technical for making an excited gesture after they wrongly called him for a foul on what replays would show was a clean block attempt against Paul George.
That ticky-tack call would play an outsized role in deciding the outcome of the game. In the third quarter, Luka Doncic and Marcus Morris Sr. got into an altercation after play was stopped. Porzingis came over to defend his teammate. Some light shoving ensued. That’s when the course of the game changed.
After turning to video review to better asses the fracas, the officials assessed double technical fouls on Morris and Porzingis. And just like that, Porzingis was ejected from his first playoff game. Whether knowingly or not, the refs changed the momentum of the game, allowing the Clippers to make a comeback and notch a 118-110 victory.
No matter the situation, both situations where Porzingis was assessed with a technical are technically spelled out in the rulebook. As are a number of calls that seemingly go unnoticed during an NBA game regularly.
After the game, crew chief Kane Fitzgerald, in a pool report, and the Mavericks weighed in on the controversial call that led to Porzingis’ ejection.
QUESTION: Why was Kristaps Porzingis assessed his first technical foul?
FITZGERALD: “He was assessed the first technical foul for throwing an air punch at the official in resentment of the call which per the NBA Respect for the Game Guidelines is an automatic technical foul.”
QUESTION: Why was Porzingis assessed the second technical foul?
FITZGERALD: “The second technical foul was for being an escalator to the altercation which was confirmed via replay.”
QUESTION: Is the situation — an automatic ejection in a competitive playoff game — given any consideration before calling the second technical foul?
FITZGERALD: “Like we said for the second (technical foul) we confirmed it through the use of instant replay that he was an escalator which is an automatic technical per the NBA standards. This being his second technical he was ejected from the game.”
QUESTION: Was the situation knowing that was going to be an ejection given any consideration?
FITZGERALD: “No, we applied the standards at replay.”
On whether he deserved the second technical foul:
“No, of course not. Of course not. I understand we got into it a little bit and I saw him getting into Luka’s face and I didn’t like it. That’s why I reacted. That’s a smart thing to do from their part and I just have to be smarter and control my emotions next time especially on the first one. I understand the second one, but the first one even though I felt like it was a clean block and they probably going to call that tech for throwing hand every time so I just have to be smart and not let my emotions get the better of me.”
On whether he got an explanation from the officials:
“No, I was already out, but you know they probably called, but they looked at the replay they did what they’re supposed to. Of course, it’s unfortunate and it could have went in a different direction maybe but it is what it is and I can’t go back and change it. It’s weird because I went through all kinds of scenarios that would happen in a game and how they were going to play us and things I shouldn’t do or how I should react but this was that one scenario that I didn’t think through. I might get a tech and don’t get the second tech so it was a weird situation and [I] guarantee it won’t happen to me again.”
“I knew that [Kristaps Porzingis] had my back. He did it for me, he did it for his teammate. He had my back. It wasn’t just me; I think the whole team appreciated that. I don’t think it was fair to kick him out of the game—especially in the playoffs. But they decide, so we had to play without him, which was tough.”
Tim Hardaway Jr.
“Well, that’s playoff basketball, man. And KP going to stick up for his teammate that’s big time, and that’s what we need—just to show that we have a presence out there, our presence is felt, and [that] we’re not backing down. Unfortunately, it was his second one [after] the one he punched the air. If you punch the air now in the league that’s an automatic tech—it’s showing up the refs. You can’t do that. It was tough. It was tough. KP does so much for us—protects the rim, does a great job of offensive rolling and being a presence down there in the paint, and knocking down open threes, and we kind of missed him tonight.”
“That’s playoffs emotion, it is going to be emotional. Everybody has to stay poised. Showing emotions, playing hard, leaving it on the court, I have no problem with that. He went to get a teammate’s back, he should have been in the game, that is part of it. That’s not really KP’s fault, he is leaving it on the floor, like I said, and that is what we expect of all our players.”
“A fist punch in the air is an automatic technical. KP got one, Paul George got one. It’s automatic. It’s in the rulebook. It’s not even a discussion. That’s just part of this that we have to realize. Now we know. We’ll move forward from and we’ll be better for it.”