The Kings are red hot, winning five of their last seven.
But they had a little help in their last victory – from the officials.
Sacramento got away with two key late no-calls – an offensive foul by DeMarcus Cousins and travelling by Darren Collison – in its 108-106 win over the pacers on Wednesday, according to the NBA’s Last Two Minute Report.
The Kings grabbed a rebound with a two point lead and 35 seconds left, and though they missed their next shot, they succeeded in burning time. The shot clock expired with Collison’s shot in the air:
However, the NBA ruled Cousins should have been called for an offensive foul with 20.8 seconds left:
Cousins (SAC) holds Hill’s (IND) left arm and affects his ability to defend the pass
Considering Cousins got away with that, the league said Collison should have been called for travelling with 11.8 seconds left:
Collison (SAC) receives the ball while on his left foot, establishing his pivot. He then moves both feet when Ellis (IND) jumps to defend his shot. Since he has drawn Ellis into the air, the referee is focused on any contact to the shooter.
The Pacers held Sacramento scoreless on the possession and grabbed the rebound, but the missed calls did damage.
Instead of having 20.8 seconds – or even 11.8 seconds if the referees missed only one call – for its final possession, Indiana had just 8.0 seconds.
Rajon Rondo smartly used the Kings’ last foul to give with 4.4 seconds left:
That left the Pacers few options, and Paul George missed a rushed shot at the buzzer (thanks to strong defense by Cousins):
But a correct call on Sacramento’s previous possession would’ve changed the scenario significantly in Indiana’s favor.
First, the Pacers would’ve gotten into their offense sooner, and Rondo would’ve been forced to use the foul to give with more time on the clock. Then, Indiana would’ve had an easier time scoring.
In reality, the clock became a sixth defender. Not only did George have to shoot quicker than he might be comfortable, the Kings knew it. They could time their shot contests to the buzzer, knowing that George can’t make additional moves to get a better shot (for himself or a teammate) without time expiring.
With a correct call, George would have had more time to create a shot. Even if the Pacers missed, they still could have intentionally fouled the Kings. If Sacramento missed at least one free throw, Indiana could’ve gotten the ball back down only one possession.
All this said, the Kings probably still would have won if their final offensive possession were correctly called. The team with a two-point lead in the final seconds – whether 20.8, 11.8 or 8.0 – usually wins.
And it’s not surprising they got away with those violations. Despite the league’s transparency on late-game officiating, refs still have a tendency to swallow their whistles. Neither the offensive foul nor travel were egregious.
But it’s fair for the Pacers to feel salty about not getting a fair chance to topple Sacramento on Wednesday.