Fred Hoiberg blamed himself for the Bulls’ loss to the Nuggets on Tuesday. Jimmy Butler said players, not their coach, should take responsibility. Dwyane Wade stressed that everyone on the team should handle it together.
A culprit not mentioned that maybe should have been: officiating.
Jimmy Butler should have drawn a late shooting foul and then a charge in Denver’s 110-107 win, according to the NBA’s Last Two Minute report.
With the game tied, Butler drove and should’ve drawn a foul with 33 seconds left when Wilson Chandler disrupted his rhythm, speed, balance, quickness:
Chandler (DEN) makes contact to the body of Butler (CHI) that affects his SQBR on the driving shot attempt
Instead of Butler – who is shooting 89% on free throws this season and 82% for his career – going to the line for two attempts, the Nuggets secured the rebound and took the ball the other way.
But Butler got in front of Will Barton to draw what should have been a charge:
Barton (DEN) initiates contact with Butler (CHI), who has established a legal guarding position in his path
Denver kept the ball, and Barton drew a foul and sunk the go-ahead free throws. Danilo Gallinari added a free throw after an intentional foul to produce the final score.
These two incorrect calls are interconnected. Butler wouldn’t have been positioned to draw a charge if he had just gone to the free-throw line. So, it’s not as if perfect officiating would have changed two calls.
But one might have been enough. Get either call correct, and the Bulls would have had a solid shot of winning the game.