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Referee Bennett Salvatore admits he blew call against Bulls

May 9, 2011, 8:12 AM EDT

NBA Finals Game 3: Los Angeles Lakers v Boston Celtics Getty Images

It was one of the key moments at the end of game, another nail in the Bulls coffin in Game 4.

The Bulls were down 6 and there was 2:30 left when Derrick Rose was behind the three-point line, got defender Jamal Crawford up in the air then leapt into him as he shot to get the three point play. It looked like a foul. The whistle blew.

Then referee Bennett Salvatore walked over to the scorer’s table and said it was an inadvertent whistle. Jump ball. The Hawks got the ball off the tip, and that was the play where Josh Smith made the quick pass from the top of the key to Al Horford open underneath for the slam. That made it an eight-point lead and the Bulls never caught up.

After the game, Salvatore admitted he blew it, as reported by Steve Ascheburner at

“I blew my whistle. I was positive it was not a foul,” the veteran ref told a pool reporter. “I blew my whistle by accident, which is an inadvertent whistle. That’s why I disallowed it.

“Having watched the replay, it was a foul. I made a mistake. I was wrong.”

Credit to Salvatore for admitting the error.

And if you’re a Bulls fan that thinks that call was what cost you the game, I would like to point you to the night of below average defense and Derrick Rose’s tough night shooting. The Bulls lost because the Hawks outplayed them, not the refs.

  1. dvic13 - May 9, 2011 at 8:30 AM

    Are you serious? That’s a 5pt swing that late in the game. I would rather the ref admit nothing. Sure the Bulls played poor, but they have won plenty of games like that, but to basically award a team 5pts that late is hard to overcome.

    • gmsingh - May 9, 2011 at 8:44 AM

      The Bulls were playing lousy, the Hawks were playing the best they could possibly play, and still the game was neck and neck until that blown call. Good thing it’s best of 7. I wouldn’t want either team to lose a series because of something like that.

  2. hnirobert3 - May 9, 2011 at 8:48 AM

    Completely unrelated to the topic at hand, but the east is wide open. I don’t think the Bulls can run three straight upsets (Magic, Bulls, Heat/C’s), but it’s definitely a toss up between Chicago, Miami and Boston.

    • hnirobert3 - May 9, 2011 at 10:10 AM

      I meant the Hawks running three straight upsets, not the Bulls.

  3. cowtownrob - May 9, 2011 at 9:01 AM

    Bennett Salvatore miss a call? *GASP* Tell me “No”.

  4. savocabol1 - May 9, 2011 at 9:47 AM

    Three straight upsets? Did you forget that the Bulls are the number 1 seed?

    • savocabol1 - May 9, 2011 at 9:48 AM

      I stand corrected. I realized now you were referring to the Hawks. In that case I agree with you 100%

      • hnirobert3 - May 9, 2011 at 10:10 AM

        Yep, my bad. I meant the Hawks.

  5. bobulated - May 9, 2011 at 3:36 PM

    The Bulls easily have the best player in this series but Atlanta is proving to be a more athletic team overall…that is when they actually show up to play.
    Rose very well could be the next MJ but there is nothing close to a Scottie Pippen or even a Horace Grant on the Bulls roster right now. IMHO they are one scorer away from being truly elite. An excellent team that plays hard and smart but there is simply not a guy on that team that can step up and take the scoring load off of Rose when he is getting the D’s complete attention. Even if they get past Atlanta, I’m not sure they can match the Heat or Celtics over 7.

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