Late in that game, Portland literally knocked around Mike Conley.
With the score 112-109 – what would become the final score – the Trail Blazers got away with two fouls on Conley, according to the NBA’s Last Two Minute Report. As a result, Conley lost the ball out of bounds, turning it over.
First, Mason Plumlee should’ve been called for a foul for disrupting Conley’s speed/quickness/balance/rhythm with 56.7 left, per the league:
Plumlee (POR) makes contact with Conley (MEM) that affects his SQBR.
Failing a correct call there, Evan Turner should’ve been whistled for fouling Conley with 54.5 seconds left:
Turner (POR) make contact with Conley (MEM) that affects his SQBR.
Because Portland was in the penalty, a correct call on either missed foul would’ve given Conley – who’s shooting 86% from the line this season and 81% for his career – two free throws.
Instead, Conley lost the ball out of bounds.
Officials reviewed the play and correctly determined Conley touched the ball last. But, by rule, the fouls couldn’t be reviewed, so there was no choice but to award Memphis the ball. Prior to the NBA implementing replay, the ruling likely would’ve been a compromise call: Not calling a foul but giving the Grizzlies the ball (which was the initial ruling Friday). Obviously, the league believes it can accurately review fouls. Hence, two-minute reports, including this after-the-fact determination. Why not review for fouls during games, when correcting officiating errors on the floor can still have an effect?
We’ll never know how the game would’ve played out with either correct call, but Memphis’ final two possessions could have gone much differently if the margin were just one or two, not three. Plumlee fouled Tony Allen on the Grizzlies’ penultimate possession. (It’s unclear whether Plumlee was just trying to prevent a layup or whether he was employing the tactic of willingly fouling when up three.) On Memphis’ final possession, Conley had to force a 3-pointer that missed.