NBA admits three incorrect calls by referees in final minute of Suns’ win over Pelicans


The NBA has recently begun publishing Last Two Minute reports of calls made by the officials in all games where the margin was within five points with two minutes to play.

Fans may disagree, but for the most part, the referees at the NBA level do a consistent job of officiating well in a fast-paced environment where they’re forced to make split-second decisions, and these reports largely confirm as much.

But in the final minute of Thursday night’s contest between the Suns and the Pelicans — a game the Suns won by two points, and one that was critical in keeping Phoenix’s fading playoff hopes alive — the league’s report concluded that the officials botched three different calls in the final 49.5 seconds.

Depending on who you were rooting for, the first incorrect call was probably the most egregious.

With 46.1 seconds remaining, Eric Gordon drains a wide open three to cut a four-point lead down to just one. The problem was that Quincy Pondexter set an illegal screen on P.J. Tucker to get Gordon loose, but the officials swallowed their respective whistles.

“Pondexter turns sideways while setting the screen on Tucker and does not give him the opportunity to stop and/or change direction,” the report said.

The last two calls the league deemed to be incorrect came on the same possession, with under eight seconds remaining. Tyreke Evans traveled before he got up his attempt at a potentially game-winning shot, but no call was made.

“Evans ends his dribble on his right foot, then goes left, right, left for a total of 3 steps,” the report says.

Then, on the ensuing scramble for the rebound, Eric Bledsoe was ruled to have fouled Alexis Ajinca, but again, nothing was called.

What all of these plays have in common is the referees seemingly not wanting to decide the game; they’d rather be left out of the story, and have the players decide it themselves. Most fans are likely fine with that way of thinking — unless their favorite team is the one that happened to get hosed.

Nick Collison latest Thunder player to go down with injury


On the same day that Kevin Durant was shut down for the foreseeable future due to experiencing continued soreness as he was trying to work his way back from a foot fracture, the Thunder learned that yet another of their players had suffered an injury that will cause him to miss some time.

Nick Collison may seem irrelevant to some, but he’s an important cog overall in the OKC machine. And after suffering an ankle sprain in Friday night’s win over the Hawks, he’s now been ruled out for the rest of the month, and is the latest Thunder player to be unwillingly thrown onto the ever-growing injury pile.

From Randy Renner of (via HoopsHype):

Thunder backup forward and first team glue guy Nick Collison will miss “at least 10 days,” with a sprained left ankle according to Thunder head coach Scott Brooks.  “He’ll be out until sometime in April.”

“There’s that saying, if you don’t laugh, you’re gonna cry, sometimes I feel like crying,” Brooks said.

Collison was finishing up one of his best games of the season Friday night against Atlanta when he rolled his left ankle.

“I don’t feel very good right now,” Collison told reporters after OKC’s thrilling win over the Hawks. He left the arena in a walking boot and on crutches.

The Thunder’s net rating is affected by just +0.2 with Collison on the floor compared to when he’s off, so something tells me they’ll survive.

But this just adds to the ridiculous amount of injuries Oklahoma City has experienced this season.

Anthony Slater of The Oklahoman:

Only 6 of 21 OKC players haven’t missed game due to injury this yr: Lance Thomas, Sebastian Telfair, Ish Smith, Waiters, Singler, Augustin.

Is that a lot? It seems like a lot.

The Thunder may very well make the playoffs in spite of all of this, thanks to Phoenix fading and the way the schedule shakes out. But the road to the postseason just got a little tougher with yet another rotation player sidelined due to injury.

Celtics’ Marcus Smart suspended one game for hitting Matt Bonner in the groin


Marcus Smart has been suspended one game for “hitting Matt Bonner in the groin,” the league announced on Saturday via official release.

Smart was issued a flagrant two foul and was ejected at the time, so the suspension doesn’t come as much of a surprise.

After the game, Smart essentially called the play an accident.

From A. Sherrod Blakely of

After the game, Smart said he was trying to rip through a Bonner screen when he accidentally hit him.

“The way he hit me, it threw my body back so it forced my momentum to come forward,” Smart told reporters. “He just happened to jump in the way as I was trying to rip up [through a screen] and he got caught.”

Believe what you want, but that doesn’t appear to be what happened here, and in fact, if you look at the video, it appeared as though Smart caught Aaron Baynes in the same area before the incident with Bonner occurred.

Smart will serve the suspension on Sunday when his team hosts the Pistons.

MORE: CSNNE subscriber? Watch Celtics-Pistons Sunday at 6:00 p.m. ET

J.R. Smith uses multiple crossovers to get free for long jumper against Pacers (VIDEO)


Over the course of a given NBA game, what you want to see out of your favorite team is well-executed plays in the half-court set that involve multiple players working together to create the easiest possible shot.

But sometimes, this can be fun, too.

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J.R. Smith was caught in isolation on the perimeter with the shot clock winding down, and while the defense of C.J. Miles was about as good as possible, Smith was able to use his incredible handles to free himself, and swish home the long jumper before time expired.

Report: Fred Hoiberg is Bulls ‘top choice’ to replace Tom Thibodeau if a coaching change is made


The situation between Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau and those in the Chicago front office has seemingly been a rocky one for quite some time.

But in the midst of yet another difficult season, where injuries have once again derailed a potential shot at a championship somewhat significantly, the chatter has become louder on the subject, and reports continue to indicate that a coaching change could very well be made once the current campaign is finished.

If that happens, the Bulls may already have a replacement in mind.

From Marc Stein of

It is widely — and I mean widely — believed throughout the league that Fred Hoiberg, whose Iowa State Cyclones were bounced in the first round of the tournament Thursday by UAB, is the top choice of the Chicago Bulls to replace Tom Thibodeau in the event that the Bulls and Thibs indeed part company at season’s end.

Good luck with that.

Hoiberg played four seasons for the Bulls from 1999-2003, so there is an existing relationship. And, once his Iowa State college team hit the tournament a year ago, rumors of a jump to the NBA similarly began to surface.

But there’s no guarantee that he’ll be a fit at the NBA level, and Thibodeau has proven that he can motivate teams to play harder on a more consistent basis than seemingly anyone else.

Unfortunately for Thibodeau, being very good at his job isn’t enough to guarantee a long-term position in his current situation. We’ve seen coaches fired (or not brought back) after leading teams to some of their best seasons ever — Lionel Hollins, George Karl and Mark Jackson all did well-above-average jobs, but either had different philosophies than the organization, or simply didn’t get along with ownership or members of the front office.

It wouldn’t be great for Bulls fans if the team and Thibodeau ultimately parted ways. But he’d almost assuredly be employed somewhere else very quickly, and certainly before the beginning of next season.