LeBron James hit the shot at the buzzer to give the Cavaliers a huge win that evened the series with the Bulls at two games apiece, but if it were up to his head coach, James would never have gotten the chance.
After Derrick Rose scored with 8.4 seconds remaining to tie the score at 84, Blatt walked onto the court and signaled for a timeout. Assistant coach Tyronn Lue practically tackled him to stop this before the referees noticed, because Cleveland was out of timeouts, and the officials could have whistled the Cavaliers for a technical foul had they responded to Blatt’s request.
“I almost blew it,” Blatt admitted postgame. “Good thing my guys caught it.”
The NBA, in its Last Two Minute report, ruled that the referees didn’t see Blatt attempt to make the call.
“Blatt (CLE) attempts to call a timeout when none remain. None of the three officials saw Coach Blatt signal for a timeout,” the report said.
Check out this video (via BBallBreakdown), which may — MAY — indicate that the baseline referee did in fact see Blatt signaling, but shook his head no because he knew the Cavaliers were out of timeouts.
Tough to tell, obviously, and as we’ve seen all season long with these reports, referees are hesitant to intervene in the game’s closing seconds. But there’s at least some doubt whether or not the report’s findings were, in this case, completely conclusive.