New York Knicks guard Courtney Lee (5) reacts while Atlanta Hawks guard Tim Hardaway Jr. (10) lies on the floor after Lee failed to score on the last shot of the third overtime of an NBA basketball game on Sunday, Jan. 29, 2017, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/Todd Kirkland)
AP Photo/Todd Kirkland

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.

PBT Extra: Despite Russell Westbrook’s triple-double pace, James Harden is MVP frontrunner

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The NBA’s MVP race is down to two men. Sure, you can make a case for Kawhi Leonard or LeBron James, some even want to throw Isaiah Thomas in the mix, but the best any of them is going to do is down the ballot in the final three slots.

The top two are reserved for James Harden and Russell Westbrook.

In this PBT Extra, I discuss that while Westbrook is on pace for a historic season — averaging a triple-double of 31.1 points, 10.5 rebounds, and 10.1 assists a game — it is Harden who is lifting his team to higher heights, and that very well could win the beard the award.

As Texas legislature considers it’s own “bathroom bill,” Adam Silver hints it could cost Houston All-Star Game

NEW ORLEANS, LA - FEBRUARY 18:  NBA Commissioner Adam Silver speaks with the media during a press conference at Smoothie King Center on February 18, 2017 in New Orleans, Louisiana. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images)
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NEW ORLEANS — The 2017 NBA All-Star Game is co-existing with the start of Mardis Gras in New Orleans right now because of the North Carolina legislature.

When that state passed bill HB2, commonly called “the bathroom law,” the NBA owners and Adam Silver rightfully drew a line in the sand and said, in so many words, “we’re not bringing our All-Star Game to your city if that discriminatory law is on the books.” Of course, there was no way a Republican-controlled legislator and governor were going to cave on a red meat issue for their base like that one in an election year. So the NBA joined numerous businesses that pulled out of the state, as well as some musical acts planning concerts, and took their business elsewhere.

Right now, the Texas legislature is considering a similar bill.

Houston is considered a frontrunner to land the 2020 or 2021 All-Star Game, the NBA has opened the application process for those games and Houston is interested.

Could the bill kill Houston’s application before it even gets to NBA Commissioner Adam Silver’s desk? Silver is too smart a lawyer and negotiator to box himself in a corner and say there is no way Houston gets the All-Star Game if the law passes, but he made it clear it could.

“You know, I’m not ready to draw bright lines. Clearly, though, the laws of the state, ordinances, and cities are a factor we look at in deciding where to play our All-Star Games,” Silver said at his annual All-Star Weekend press conference.

“I think the issue is we’d have to look at the specific legislation and understand its impact. I mean, I’m not ready to stand here today and say that that is the bright line test for whether or not we will play All-Star Games in Texas. It’s something we’re, of course, going to monitor very closely. What we’ve stated is that our values, our league-wide values in terms of equality and inclusion are paramount to this league and all the members of the NBA family, and I think those jurisdictions that are considering legislation similar to HB2 are on notice that that is an important factor for us. Those values are an important factor for us in deciding where we take a special event like an All-Star Game.”

The 2018 NBA All-Star Game is headed to Los Angeles, and there is no concern that California is going to pass such a law. The 2019 game is officially unscheduled right now, but the NBA’s hope is to give it to Charlotte if HB2 is rolled back or eliminated. The uproar over the law is part of the reason the former governor Pat McCrory lost his re-election bid last November to Democratic challenger Roy Cooper.

“I have talked to Governor Cooper, the new Governor of North Carolina since he was elected, really to express our desire to return to North Carolina [in 2019] for our All-Star Game,” Silver said. “We have a team in North Carolina. We have a development team, soon to be a G-League team, in North Carolina. And 20 other teams will visit North Carolina this season. So we’d very much like to get back there.

“We had a discussion so I understood, certainly, his position, when he was running for office, was anti-HB2, the bill that ultimately led to our leaving. So I really was talking to him more to understand, from his standpoint, how he was hoping to move forward in terms of changing that law. My pain purpose of talking to him was to express our desire to return.”

The HB2 law covered a variety of issues, but what drew the most attention was that it restricts transgender bathroom use — you have to use the bathroom for the gender with which you were born. The law also superseded anti-discrimination ordinances put in by the city of Charlotte and other North Carolina cities, laws that tried to block discrimination against gays and lesbians. 

While any state has the right to put on the books laws it sees fit (within the framework of the Constitution), those actions can come with consequences. Just like Texas has the right to put the law on the books (not a sure thing, there has been pushback from the business community in the state), the NBA has the right to decide where it will do business. And bringing an All-Star Game to a city is a big economic boost — Charlotte lost an estimated $100 million in spending without the game, according to the Charlotte Regional Visitors Authority.

Kevin Durant introduced as ‘OKC’s own’ (video)

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Kevin Durant attended the Three-Point Shootout, which was a perfect time to introduce the high-profile Warriors star.

It just happened in an incredibly awkward way.

Report: Former Magic teammates had ‘real issues’ with Serge Ibaka

Orlando Magic forward Serge Ibaka, of Congo, reacts after being called for a foul while defending a shot by Denver Nuggets forward Nikola Jokic in the second half of an NBA basketball game Monday, Jan. 16, 2017, in Denver. The Nuggets won 125-112. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
AP Photo/David Zalubowski
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In trading Serge Ibaka to the Raptors, the Magic didn’t just get assets (Terrence Ross and a first-round pick) for a player who seemed increasingly likely to leave in unrestricted free agency this summer.

Orlando apparently also got rid of a headache.

Steve Kyler of Basketball Insiders:

Going from the winning Thunder to the lowly Magic probably didn’t bring out the best in Ibaka, and thats understandable, though not entirely excusable.

I also wonder how much of this was situational rather than anything Ibaka actively did wrong.

His presence forced Aaron Gordon and Jeff Green from their ideal position of power forward to small forward. That narrowed Mario Hezonja‘s path the the court. Any minutes Ibaka received at center cut into Bismack Biyombo‘s and Nikola Vucevic‘s playing time.

Both elements probably worked in concert. Ibaka disrupted the play of several teammates just by being there, which likely led to them giving him less benefit of the doubt about his attitude.

Don’t absolve Magic general manager Rob Hennigan, though. He built a roster overloaded with bigs. He asked for leadership from a newcomer who was third banana at best on his previous team and is entering a contract year. It’s not a huge shock this dynamic soured on and off the court.