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.