With nine seconds left and the Nuggets down three against the Clippers on Monday, Denver was undoubtedly going to inbound the ball and look for an attempt at a three-point shot.
Coming out of a timeout, Doc Rivers didn’t want to take the chance that the Nuggets would tie the game, and the Clippers had a foul to give. He instructed his players to foul instead of allowing the three-point shot, and that’s what happened — Matt Barnes mugged Danilo Gallinari on the perimeter as soon as he could, and though Barnes seemed to initiate contact a split-second before a shot could be attempted, Gallinari forced one up anyway, in hopes of earning three free throws.
The referees, likely alerted by the Clippers that they would be fouling, didn’t see it that way. It was ruled that the foul occurred before the shot, and Denver was awarded the ball out of bounds.
Nuggets head coach Brian Shaw believed the refs got it wrong, and used this play as a jumping-off point to discuss how his team frequently hasn’t gotten the calls to go their way in these types of situations.
From Chris Dempsey of The Denver Post:
I don’t know why we don’t get awarded three free throws on that shot,” Nuggets coach Brian Shaw said. “He planted his feet, went up to shoot the ball in a shooting motion – that’s what the rules say – and they give them the ball out of bounds. We don’t get a chance to go to the free throw line and get three free throws.”
Asked about his level of frustration with the non-call, Gallinari simply grinned and said, “I’ll let the people watch the replay and make their own judgment.”
Shaw, however, steamed.
“It’s frustrating when night-in and night-out all of those kind of calls go against us,” he said. “And the explanation of i changes all the time, when we get an explanation. Or they admit that they made a mistake after the fact when it’s already cost us a game.”
Blaming the referees for your team’s struggles seems silly, especially coming from the head coach.
While it may have been close on this particular play, Denver had its chances; the team led this game by as many as 16 points. Jamal Crawford scoring 21 points in the fourth had far more to do with the Nuggets losing than the officials did, but Shaw obviously believes a pattern is emerging where his team and the officiating is concerned.