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Did late-game officiating cost Knicks a win against Hawks?

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After the Hawks’ 142-139 quadruple overtime win over the Knicks on Sunday, Paul Millsap said:

“That was fun,” Millsap said. “I don’t want to do that again ever, but it was fun.”

But the NBA’s Last Two Minute report — which acknowledged 12 missed calls, seven favoring Atlanta and five favoring New York over the final two minutes of the fourth quarter and each overtime period — requires recreating portions of the game to determine whether late officiating errors rob the Knicks of a win?

By quantity, New York came out behind on missed calls. But not all missed calls are created equally. So, I dug deeper into the missed calls I found consequential. Generally, I ignore times the offensive team gets away with a violation and doesn’t score anyway and times the defensive team gets away with a violation and gets scored on anyway.

We know the fourth quarter and each of the first three overtime periods ended tied. So, any missed calls that would’ve given a team a lead when the clock read zeroes could stop this exercise. So, I break down my analysis by period.

Fourth quarter

With 1:11 left, Joakim Noah should have been called for offensively fouling Dennis Schroder:

Noah (NYK) sets the screen on Schroder (ATL) and does not give him room to avoid the contact.

A correct call would’ve ended the Knicks’ possession. Instead, they hit a 3-pointer.

With 30.2 seconds left, Dennis Schroder helped Atlanta secure a defensive rebound by grabbing Joakim Noah, contact that should have induced a loose-ball foul:

Schroder (ATL) clamps the arm of Noah (NYK) and affects his ability to retrieve the rebound.

A correct call would’ve put the Hawks into the penalty and meant two free throws for Noah, who’s shooting just 43% from the line this season — including this infamous miss — and 70% for his career

Paul Millsap got away with a shooting foul for disrupting Carmelo Anthony‘s speed/quickness/balance//rhythm with 3.5 seconds left:

Millsap (ATL) makes contact to the body of Anthony (NYK) that affects his SQBR on the driving shot attempt.

He made the shot anyway, but a correct call would’ve give Anthony — who’s shooting 83% from the line this season and 81% for his career — an additional free throw.

In sum, missed calls in the final two minutes of the fourth quarter allowed the Knicks to score three extra points and cost New York three free throws, two by Noah one by Anthony. At best for the Knicks, that’s a wash that leads to overtime, anyway. Considering Noah’s horrendous free-throw shooting, the result probably would’ve just been New York losing in regulation.

But considering he never got the clutch attempts for us to find out, we’ll continue.

First overtime

If you’re willing to suppose they would’ve made all three free throws missed calls deprived them of late in the fourth quarter, the Knicks can point to this call as the one that really burned them.

Dwight Howard got away with a defensive three-second violation with 1:14 left:

Howard (ATL) is in the paint without actively guarding an opponent for longer than three seconds.

Stifled by Howard’s presence, the Knicks settled for an Anthony 3-pointer, which missed and was defensively rebounded.
A correct call would’ve given any Knick on the floor — likely Courtney Lee, who’s shooting 89% from the line this season and 85% for his career — a single free throw. New York also would’ve gotten the ball back with a fresh shot clock.

Second overtime

Anthony was incorrectly called for a shooting foul on Schroder, who scored anyway and missed the free throw. Of greater consequence: Anthony fouled out. However, he also got away with a foul in the fourth quarter (on a possession where Atlanta scored anyway).

Third overtime

Schroder bouncing ball into the stands and not drawing a technical foul occurred with 2:21 left, so the two-minute report doesn’t address it.

But an acknowledged missed call would’ve given Schroder a free throw when Justin Holiday got away with a shooting foul with 4.4 seconds left:

Holiday (NYK) makes contact with Schroder’s (ATL) body that affects his drive to the basket and shot attempt.

He still scored to tie it, but Schroder — who’s shooting 82% from the line this season and 80% for his career — was deprived a chance at a go-ahead free throw that could’ve ended the game here.

Obviously, Atlanta won any way, but this missed call detracts from the significance of any missed calls favoring the Hawks in the fourth overtime.

Fourth overtime

Malcolm Delaney got away with committing a shooting foul on Brandon Jennings with 1:26 left:

Delaney (ATL) makes contact with Jennings’ (NYK) body that affects his drive to the basket and shot attempt.

A correct call would’ve meant two free throws for Jennings, who’s shooting 76% from the line this season and 80% for his career.

Instead, New York came up empty on this possession.

Down two later in the period, the Knicks began intentionally fouling.

We obviously don’t know how changing any of these missed calls would’ve affected the rest of the game. But the final two calls, uncalled loose-ball fouls as players fought for rebounds, especially clearly happened in situations that never would’ve occurred if New York didn’t have to intentionally foul.

Did officiating errors cost the Knicks the game? There is a case to be made, but it must include Noah sinking 2-of-2 free throws late in the fourth quarter.

Report: Kevin Love was frustrated with move to center

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With Derrick Rose having to start at point guard (until Isiah Thomas returns sometime in early 2018) and Dwyane Wade starting at the two, Cavaliers coach Tyronn Lue had no choice but to move Kevin Love to starting at center. The Cavaliers desperately need the floor spacing to open up driving lanes and options for LeBron James. Start Tristan Thompson at the five (with Love at the four and Jae Crowder coming off the bench) and it adds another non-shooter to the mix that allows opposing defenses to just pack the paint and force LeBron to be a jump shooter.

That doesn’t mean everyone liked the change.

Love admitted to Chris Fedor of the Cleveland Plain Dealer he was frustrated with the move at first.

“It’s been a little bit of a change for me,” Love admitted. “I still find myself spacing a little bit wanting to roll a little bit more and on the defensive end just playing the primary big on their team the whole time on the defensive end. It’s been a little bit different figuring things out on that end, but it comes with the growth I’m talking about. We need to do that and hopefully be a machine when things start clicking.”

Lue put it this way.

“We’re going to try it out and see how it works. He was frustrated at first, but now he’s enjoying it.”

While in certain matchups, when the opposition has a more traditional center, the Cavs may go back to the Love/Thompson front line for a stretch. But the small ball lineup is the way Cleveland should be leaning, even with its clear defensive deficiencies. We saw that in the opener with Love’s dagger three in the fourth quarter.

Love is adjusting, he’s already sacrificed a lot to play with LeBron. This is just another step in that evolution.

Another wing down? Celtics’ Marcus Smart likely out vs. Sixers

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The horrific, probably season-ending injury to Gordon Hayward has left the Celtics with a shortage of players on the wing.

Going up against Philadelphia Friday night, that might be getting worse, reports A. Sherrod Blakely of NBC Sports Boston.

Looking at the pictures, I doubt Smart plays.

As noted, Smart said he hurt both ankles in the second night of a back-to-back against Milwaukee, the left one in a collision with teammate Jaylen Brown. Smart started that game and played 32 minutes. That’s a lot of time to go to lesser players.

If he’s out Friday, that likely means either Terry Rozier or Abdel Nader get the start, and both are going to see a healthy bump in minutes. Whatever happens, the Celtics would miss Smart in a game where they need to defend Ben Simmons on the wing.

What happened to Willy Hernangomez’s minutes with Knicks?

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When talking about the Knicks’ young core going forward, Willy Hernangomez was one of the names that got mentioned by the front office (alongside players such asFrank Ntilikina and Tim Hardaway Jr.). The Knicks are crowded at the center spot — Enes Kanter got the start in the opener Thursday night, and Kristaps Porzingis should get minutes there (it’s ultimately going to be his NBA position), and this isn’t even mentioning Joakim Noah — but Hernangomez looked like a developing young player who needed some run.

He got just 3:46 minutes in the opener, and that was during fourth quarter garbage time. Kyle O'Quinn got nearly 22 off the bench at the five. That follows a preseason where Hernangomez saw his minutes drop seemingly game-to-game.

What gives? Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News asked the same question.

“We have a lot of bigs,” Hornacek said. “(O’Quinn) and Enes earned the minutes in training camp. Willy’s not far behind. He’s got to keep working. When you got that many bigs, you can’t play them all. The other guys earned the minutes. I told all three of them it doesn’t matter if you’re in the rotation or out of rotation. If you’re in it, you’ve got to earn it to keep it.”

“I can score. It’s not difficult for me. I think the coach wants to see my effort on defense. That’s why I have to keep working hard everyday,” said Hernangomez, who is also Kristaps Porzingis’ best friend on the Knicks.

Without question, Hernangomez needs to work on his defense, but then again this is a Knicks team starting Kanter so it’s obviously not a requirement.

Hornacek needs to find a balance here — it’s early in the season, he wants to win games, he wants to put his best foot forward. But the Knicks are not a playoff team this season, and they are in the player development business. That means Hernangomez — as well as rookie point guard Ntilikina — need to get minutes, need to be thrown to the wolves a little, and need to learn from their mistakes. Hornacek needs to be coaching for a few years down the line… the problem is he knows he may not have this job that far down the line, so he’s coaching to get wins now.

Patrick Beverley talks a lot of smack, taunts Lonzo Ball in opener

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LOS ANGELES — Welcome to the NBA Lonzo Ball. Guys are gunning for you.

“He’s a great talent, but he’s got to go through the tough times. I just had to set the tone,” the Clippers’ Patrick Beverley said of his physical play on Ball from the opening tip. “I told him after the game, due to all the riffraff his dad brings he’s going to get a lot of people coming at him. He’s got to be ready for that, and I let him know after the game…

“(I had to) welcome his little young a** to the NBA.”

Beverley said a lot more than that.

Beverly is known as a physical defender who talks a lot and tries to get under the skin of opponents. Throw in an overhyped rookie — one who other players feel hasn’t earned his place yet, one with a Facebook reality show, one with a father who talks a lot — and you get the full Beverley treatment from the opening tip.

Maybe Snoop Dogg put it best, as he often does.

Both Lakers coach Luke Walton and team president Magic Johnson said they warned Ball what was coming, but words don’t always do justice to the reality of a guy in your grill all night.

In the second quarter, Beverley stole the ball from Ball from Ball shouted “first team!” three times while holding up his index finger — a reference to him being First Team All-Defense last season.

Thing is, it wasn’t just Beverley. When he sat Austin Rivers had the Ball defensive assignment, and on a couple of occasions Ball tried to drive past Rivers but couldn’t. All night long a Clippers team that always prioritizes getting back in transition took away the look-ahead passes that Ball was known for over the summer (he had a couple, but there were few opportunities).

Ball sat the entire fourth quarter and finished the night 1-of-6 shooting with four assists and nine rebounds. The Lakers were blown out by Beverley’s Clippers 108-92, a game the Clippers led by 30 at one point.

To his credit, Ball handled it well.

“He plays 94 feet,” Ball said of Beverley. “That’s what you’re supposed to do. He’s a good defender. I just tried to do what I can.”

“It was good for (Lonzo),” Walton said of the rough first night. “Beverley is as good as anyone, if not the best, at the point guard position of getting into other people and getting under their skin. I thought Zo kept his composure.”

Ball is going to need that composure over a long season — Beverley is right, other guys will come at him. Lonzo’s father LaVar wrote a lot of checks with his mouth this summer — he called out LeBron James, Stephen Curry, and others — that will come due on Lonzo. There are more learning experiences ahead for the rookie, especially on a young Lakers team without nearly enough shooting around him to create the space he needs for his passing to thrive.

However, hold his own this season, improve, and keep that composure and he will win over NBA players. Respect is earned in the league, and Ball is just starting that process as far as other teams are concerned.