That was a bad call. A kind of obviously bad call.
Down six and going for a three in the final 30 seconds of the Raptors eventual loss to the Kings, Lowry was freed up for a catch-and-shoot three and got called for the offensive foul.
What the referee misjudged was something they were specifically told to start cracking down on last year — players (Dwyane Wade and others did this a lot) would kick out a leg in front of them as they shot a jumper, hoping to draw contact from whomever was contesting then they would fall and try to draw the call. In those cases it was the shooter not making a basketball play and initiating the foul. Except that’s not what Lowry did at all — that was good form, and while his legs came out in front of him it was a natural part of his shooting motion. That should have been a four-point play, not an offensive foul. Not even close.
The technical Lowry got is something the league calls regularly now (most prominently LeBron James has gotten a couple of these recently, including one Wednesday night) — if you run away from the referee after a call that is considered a demonstrable action trying to show up the referee with your displeasure. They call that pretty consistently (Jeff Van Gundy hates it but they are consistent). I wish there was a little more leeway here — a guy running the length of the floor on a first quarter charging call is different from a guy frustrated with a call in the final 30 seconds of a close game. Emotions are up, we want to see guys express those emotions. That seemed thin-skinned by the referees for me, but it wasn’t out of line with what they had been doing. (Lowry already had a technical, so with that one he was ejected.)
To be clear, Toronto didn’t lose this game because of this call, they lost this game because DeMarcus Cousins and the Kings’ front line overwhelmed them in the first half and had Sacramento up by 22 at one point. However, this call ended Toronto’s comeback — if that is allowed to be a four point play then we have a two-point game with 25 seconds left and the end plays out differently. Sacramento probably still wins, but the Raptors had a chance. That bad call killed their chances.