NBA: Three key officiating errors in final minute helped Clippers over Trail Blazers

AP Photo/Alex Gallardo
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In the four-team fight between the Trail Blazers, Jazz, Rockets and Mavericks for the West’s final three playoff spots, Portland has emerged as the unlikely favorite to reach the postseason. The Trail Blazers are sixth in the conference – 2.5 games inside playoff position.

Imagine where they’d be if officials correctly called the end of their 96-94 loss to the Clippers – capped by J.J. Redick‘s buzzer beater – Thursday.

The Clippers scored five points in the final minute after uncalled DeAndre Jordan offensive fouls and Austin Rivers got away with a foul on Portland’s final possession, according to the NBA’s Last Two Minute Report.

With 45.1 second left, Jordan illegally screened Damian Lillard to spring Chris Paul‘s drive. NBA:

Jordan (LAC) extends his arms into Lillard’s (POR) back affecting his ability to defend.

Paul drew a foul and hit both free throws to tie the game.

With 18.4 seconds left, Jordan set another uncalled illegal screen, this one on C.J. McCollum. NBA:

Jordan (LAC) extend his arm as he sets the screen on McCollum (POR) without giving him room to avoid the contact.

Jamal Crawford finished that possession with the game-tying 3-pointer.

Finally, Rivers got away with a loose-ball foul on McCollum with 2.4 seconds left after the Trail Blazers missed their last shot. NBA:

Rivers (LAC) makes contact with McCollum (POR) that affects his rebound attempt.

The Clippers were in the penalty, so a correct call would’ve sent McCollum – who’s making 83% of his free throws this season – to the line for two attempts in a tie game. Instead, the Clippers got the ball, and Redick did his thing.

Both teams got away with a defensive three-second violation in the final two minutes – the Clippers with 1:47 left, the Trail Blazers with 1:04 left. It’s safe to call those a wash.

Fix any of the three decisive missed calls in the final two minutes, and Portland probably would have been looking at a regulation win at best or overtime at worst. Fix all three, and the Trail Blazers likely win walking away.

In a tight playoff race, this was a pretty consequential set of officiating errors.