Late in the fourth quarter of Game 2 between the Spurs and the Grizzlies, San Antonio was clinging to a four-point lead with under 30 seconds remaining. Manu Ginobili was double-teamed by Zach Randolph and Tony Allen, and lost the ball to Randolph, who flipped it ahead to Allen for what was sure to be a layup that would have cut the lead to two.
Ginobili caught up with Allen, and did the right thing by committing a foul to make sure that the points would have to be earned at the free throw line. What Allen did following the foul was disgraceful, and may have helped the referees decide to rule it as a flagrant foul, which comes with it possession of the ball after the two free throw attempts.
As soon as Allen hits the deck, he lays on his back for a brief moment, before clutching his head and rolling around as though he were just shot. Replays show that neither his head nor his neck hit any part of the floor during the fall, and this was a clear acting job to try to sell the foul as being harder than it actually was.
The referees reviewed the play and upheld the flagrant foul call. The result was Allen sinking both free throws, and on the following possession which was awarded because of the flagrant, Mike Conley scored what turned out to be the final points of regulation with 18 seconds left to send the game into overtime.
It’s worth noting that this might have been ruled a flagrant foul even without Allen’s intentional exaggeration of the contact. Ginobili grabbed Allen’s off arm and pulled him to the floor, which the referees very well may have determined to be excessive in that situation. His flop after the fact certainly didn’t hurt his chances, although it would be nice to see the league recognize this for what it was and give him a fine for his actions.
The Grizzlies were just 2-of-12 from the field in the overtime session, and the Spurs got the 93-89 win to take a 2-0 lead in the series.
LeBron James says he doesn’t see Cavaliers-Warriors as rivalry
“We don’t look at it as a rival,” James said. “They’re a great team. They’ve been the best team the last couple years, last three years.”
“It’s just the next game, it’s Golden State,” James said. “They’re a helluva team, like I said the best team in the league and they’ve been that way the last three years, four years, however long it’s been, I’m not quite sure. But, listen, you guys know, we don’t put all our eggs in one basket for one game.”
LeBron just doesn’t want the Cavs to become comfortable. They’ve beat Golden State in four straight games – the last three of the 2016 Finals and on Christmas – and could extend the streak to five today. Beating a rival that frequently is a cause for celebration, and celebration leads to contentment. LeBron would rather keep Cleveland focused and hungry. Hence, saying the Warriors aren’t a rival.
Andre Drummond hits 3-pointer from inside Pistons’ own 3-point arc (video)
But Booker’s last four – which put Phoenix up for good – came directly after incorrect calls, according to the NBA’s Last Two Minute Report.
First, Booker drew a (legitimate) foul on Pau Gasol with 1:08 left and made both free throws. The problem: One second before that, Suns center Tyson Chandler should have been called for offensively fouling Tony Parker, according to the league:
Chandler (PHX) sets the screen on Parker (SAS) and makes leg to leg contact that affects his ability to defend the play.
That would’ve ended Phoenix’s possession rather than allowing Booker to get to the line.
The other missed call in the two-minute report is trickier, because it directly benefitted the Spurs but indirectly benefitted the Suns.
Manu Ginobili got away with travelling with 59.1 seconds left, according to the league:
Ginobili (SAS) moves his pivot foot.
But he coughed up the ball moments later anyway, and – thrilled to gain possession with a live-ball turnover rather than a dead-ball turnover – Booker turned the miscue into a fastbreak dunk.
Rather than debate how to evaluate San Antonio getting away with a travel and it ultimately helping Phoenix more, let’s stick to just the uncalled Chandler offensive foul. That netted the Suns two points. Their lead when the Spurs began intentionally fouling? One.
Russell Westbrook puts up 20th triple-double of season, lifts Thunder past Kings (VIDEO)
Through 41 games — half the season — Russell Westbrook is averaging 30.8 points, 10.7 rebounds, and 10.5 assists a game. Those numbers are insane, particularly considering his 42 percent usage rate. He has to put up numbers and do so fairly efficiently or the Thunder stand no chance of winning — and he has the Thunder on pace for 48 wins this season.
The Thunder picked up another of those wins Sunday night knocking off the Sacramento Kings behind Westbrook’s 20th triple-double in 41 games — 36 points, 11 rebounds, and 10 assists. The video highlights are above.
It’s going to be fun watching him and James Harden go back-and-forth in the MVP race for the next few months.