A day after Erik Spoelstra implored the NBA not to fine him for criticizing the officiating, the league obliged.
According to a source briefed on the situation, the NBA decided not to penalize the Heat coach for his comments in the wake of Miami’s 120-118 loss at Golden State.
But in its daily officiating report, the NBA conceded that the Heat was victimized by one bad call.
The NBA’s Last Two Minute report released Monday evening indicates there should have been a “discontinued dribble” called on Kevin Durant with 24.6 seconds today.
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“Combining video evidence from multiple angles confirms that the ball does not make contact with Justise Winslow’s foot/shin and a discontinued dribble should have been called on Durant,” the report reads.
But the report also indicates the officials made the right call on the second play the Heat questioned, when Josh Richardson found himself on the ground while trying to run open on an inbounds play with 5.4 seconds to play.
“[Klay] Thompson does not appear to extend his leg unnaturally and there is no conclusive angle that shows foot contact while trailing Richardson,” the report reads. “From broadcast, it appears that Richardson may trip over [Bam] Adebayo’s foot as he comes off the screen.”
After Sunday’s game, Spoelstra began his postgame news conference with this message for the league:
“Look, NBA do not fine me. I’m allowed to say this. It ends up being 26 to 8,” he said of the Warriors’ 26 free throw attempts, compared with Miami’s eight. “I know nobody wants to hear that, and that’s not why we lost.
“The officials, so let’s be clear about it, so I do not get fined, that’s not why we lost. But you hate to see 26 to 8 when our guys are going aggressively.”
Beyond that, those two calls late in the game particularly angered the Heat.
With the score tied at 118, Durant lost his dribble but was the first to touch it – first with one hand, then the other - after the ball rolled away.
He then missed a three-pointer, but DeMarcus Cousins grabbed the rebound, was fouled by Winslow and hit two free throws with 5.4 seconds left to provide the winning margin.
“It’s a double-dribble,” Spoelstra said of that play. “Everybody can see it. Those are tough calls to make, but everybody saw it. It’s right there in front of everybody. That should be a violation. And you can’t miss those calls.”
The NBA on Monday conceded Spoelstra was right about that.
On the ensuing play following a timeout, Richardson tumbled to the court and slid into the bench while trying to position himself the inbounds pass. Richardson was a primary Heat option on that play.
“I don’t know if he got knocked off course,” Spoelstra said. “But I’ve said my piece. But it looked like he was coming off and had an opportunity to break free.”
Richardson, who scored a career-high 37 points, said: “I was running to the corner for the inbounds. I got tripped. I slid out of bounds. I got held to the bench. Nobody called it or saw it, so it is what it is.”
The NBA disagreed with that assessment by Richardson.
With Richardson falling out of the plan, Waiters missed a three-pointer that could have won the game.
Before the Heat’s game against Denver on Monday night, Spoelstra indicated he agreed with the decision not to fine him.
“I didn’t say anything inflammatory,” he said. “I’m allowed to say my peace about that. I didn’t cross the line. I didn’t anticipate I would be fined.”
Spoelstra said assistant coach Chris Quinn read him the last two minute report from the Golden State game, which was released about two hours before Heat tipoff in Denver.”
“I said enough last night,” Spoelstra said Monday evening. “We’re very accountable. And I know the league is really pushing for that type of accountability as well. I walked out of that building with an L on our heads. At the end of the day, you deserve it and we’ll take accountability for the things we could have done better. What I said is we just disagreed. It didn’t look right and it didn’t feel right. I understand the two-minute report. I understand the accountability. We just want them to watch the game film and understand some of the things we saw.
“Similarly, how we did it last night on the plane. I was angry. I went through things we could have done better regardless of how that went. That’s all. We’re accountable. Players are accountable. That is the worst job in the legaue, to officiate. I have empathy for how difficult that can be. Accountability all across is what this league wants. That’s what this league is about. Transparency is good. We want not just the two-minute review. I went through the entire game twice. And that game deserves a review, not to rescind anything. We took an L and we walked out of there deserving of that, but just to look at some of the potential inconsistencies.”