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Baseline-to-Baseline recaps: Refs make Nuggets/Bulls ending interesting

Mar 19, 2013, 8:37 AM EDT

Chicago Bulls coach Thibodeau argues with referee Mauer during their NBA basketball game against the Denver Nuggets in Chicago Reuters

Welcome to PBT’s roundup of yesterday’s NBA games. Or, what you missed while wishing you were as well traveled as this dog

Heat 105, Celtics 103: This felt like a playoff game — it was chippy, emotional and the crowd was into it. Jeff Green took over for the Celtics with 43 points, giving the team the kind of boost it needed without Kevin Garnett in the lineup. But in the end, the Heat had LeBron James. We broke it all down in some detail. Plus, if you want to see LeBron’s entrant in the “Dunk of the Year” contest we got that, too.

Suns 99, Lakers 76: The Lakers looked like an old team on the second night of a back-to-back playing without their biggest star. The Suns played with some fight and this wasn’t even that close. Our man Brett Pollakoff was in the building and broke it all down.

Nuggets 119, Bulls 118 (OT): The Nuggets have won a dozen in a row, but all anybody is talking about is the controversial ending — and the referees only got it half right in my mind. Tom Thibodeau has a right to be pissed off. Sure, there were 52 minutes of other basketball where Wilson Chandler scored 35 and Nate Robinson scored 34 including a three to send it to overtime. There was a lot of other basketball where the Bulls played with basically a six-man rotation and fought hard. But you don’t want to talk about that, do you? Let’s get to the tip ins that decided the game.

Denver was down one (115-114) with 50 seconds left when Ty Lawson drives the lane and misses the layup, but Kosta Koufos is on the spot to tip it in — except replays clearly showed the ball was sitting on the rim and over the cylinder when it was tipped. I say that should have been offensive goaltending, others say if it is falling off the rim it can be tipped. Bottom line is no call, no review, play went on and the Nuggets got the points. After a Joakim Noah tip in (that was clearly legit) and a Noah block of Chandler, followed by an Andre Iguodala three you had the final score you see above, but the Bulls had one last shot.

Marco Belinelli brought it up the left wing and took a rushed jumper that was short, but Joakim Noah was flying in, tipped the ball in and the United Center went crazy. No call, but Denver did call a timeout, and during that break the officials reviewed the play and called Noah for offensive basket interference, tipping in a ball that was over the cylinder. It was the correct call, it was an illegal tip.

These were both illegal tip ins to my eye, both were over the cylinder. The question is, why was only one reviewed? The refs can’t say they didn’t review Koufos’ because there was not call, because there was no call on Noah’s either. There was just time. It will be interesting to see what the league office says about all this.

Knicks 90, Jazz 83: The Lakers losing in Phoenix didn’t affect their playoff chances at all, thanks to the Jazz continuing to be in a complete free-fall as the season enters its final month. With the Knicks missing Carmelo Anthony and Tyson Chandler, and trotting out a starting lineup featuring Kenyon Martin, Chris Copeland, and Pablo Prigioni, they were still able to win in Utah thanks to the Jazz shooting just 28.9 percent from the field over the final two periods.

Utah typically does significant damage in the paint, but scored a season-low 22 points there in this one. J.R. Smith led all scorers with a game-high 20 points, which lets you know just how much of an offensive exhibition this one was.
—Brett Pollakoff

Grizzlies 92, Timberwolves 77: It’s not very often a team improves dramatically after a big mid-season trade, but with each and every game that goes by, the Grizzlies seem to make more and more sense. Even when it’s a little something — like Tayshaun Prince bringing up the ball and being able to feed the high post easier because of his height — it feels like a revelation for an offense that was so starved for space, especially when they force-fed Rudy Gay in the past.

This was a game where the Grizzlies just sharpened the knives a little bit, essentially. As per usual, Marc Gasol did everything, including a sick no-look alley-oop pass to Tony Allen for a jam. How many 7-footers influence the game the way Gasol does on both ends? Zero. Zilch. Nada. Gasol was excellent with 16 points, 8 rebounds, 5 assists and 4 blocks.

The Wolves were down 23 points in the third quarter, which is bad obviously, but if you’ve followed the Wolves this year, you knew it could get worse. Ricky Rubio left the game with an apparent groin injury, sapping the Wolves of any shred of visual appeal for the rest of the game. Minnesota finished the game shooting 33 percent as a team, but somehow, it felt worse.
—D.J. Foster

76ers 101, Trail Blazers 100: LaMarcus Aldridge had an All-Star night — 32 points and 14 rebounds — but he had a turnaround jumper he can knock down to win the game at the end and he missed it. That’s a tough loss for Portland but a quality win for the Sixers, who are refusing to completely roll over down the stretch. Jrue Holiday had 27 points, Thaddeus Young ptched in 19 and Spencer Hawes had 18 points and 13 rebounds. It’s still a team game folks — there were six Sixers in double figures, just two Trail Blazers (Aldridge and Damian Lillard with 27).

Mavericks 127, Hawks 113: The Hawks have their issues; that much has been documented. But the Mavericks, now that they have a healthy Dirk Nowitzki and are beginning to build some confidence behind playing with some consistent lineups, have been putting together wins and are within reach of a long-shot entry into the postseason.

Dallas scored its season high in points, and was led in scoring by Darren Collison off the bench who finished with 24 points on 10-14 shooting. The Hawks failed to defend all night long, as the Mavs finished the game shooting 57.3 percent from the field, including almost 60 percent (13-22) from three-point distance.

The Mavericks are very quietly just three games behind the Lakers for the eighth and final playoff spot in the West with 15 games left to play.
—Brett Pollakoff

Pacers 111, Cavaliers 90: Indiana took control of this game with an 11-0 run in the second quarter (the quarter where Gerald Green put up 13), pulled away in the second half and cruised to an easy win. Green finished with 20 points and Tyler Hansbrough added 18 points and 11 rebounds. The highlight you are going to see out of this game — and the suspension coming down — will be for Marreese Speights, who grabbed Paul George around the neck and threw him to the floor. He got a flagrant 2 and was ejected for it. As he should have been.

Nets 119, Pistons 82: Deron Williams had 14 of his 31 points in the first quarter, sparked a 10-0 Nets run and they never looked back from there. Brook Lopez had 18 points and Andray Blatche chipped in 15. The Nets looked pretty good mostly the Pistons continue to look terrible, particularly on defense.

Warriors 93, Hornets 72: After beating the Rockets in Houston the night before, there was no way the Warriors were going to kill that momentum by stubbing their toe against the Hornets. Stephen Curry scored 30 points on 10-19 shooting, but more importantly for the long-term prospects of this team is the fact that Andrew Bogut turned in a stellar defensive effort inside for the second straight night.

Golden State shot 50 percent from the field for the game, including 52.6 percent from three-point distance. That, along with holding the Hornets to just 11 fourth quarter points was more than enough to pull away for the victory.
—Brett Pollakoff

Bobcats 119, Wizards 114: Defense? We don’t need no stinkin’ defense. Not a lot of it to be found in this game. Charlotte was down five inside three minutes to play but went on a 12-0 run to secure the win. Gerald Henderson had 27 to lead the Bobcats, John Wall had 25 for Washington. If the Wizards want to point the finger at something, how about the 14 free throws they gave the Bobcats in the fourth and 33 for the game. Can’t do that and win against a teams that knock the freebies down.

  1. timb12 - Mar 19, 2013 at 9:13 AM

    The Rockets didn’t play last night.

  2. timb12 - Mar 19, 2013 at 9:14 AM

    A lot of teams didn’t play last night.

  3. comeonnowguys - Mar 19, 2013 at 9:19 AM

    If the Bulls were right, and Noah’s tip-in was counted as a basket and then overturned during the timeout, then they got absolutely jobbed by the refs. Even the out of bounds on the next position, which was clearly last touched by Denver (it was right in front of the ref) had to be reviewed.

    Bad calls happen, but come on…

    • pudgalvin - Mar 19, 2013 at 10:15 AM

      Angriest I’ve ever seen Thibs. But just think, in the next week or so, the Bulls could be adding a league MVP, their sixth man and one of the best defenders in the league, and Thib’s defensive quarterback and a capable combo guard. Tough couple weeks for the Bulls, playing without 4 of their top 7, but I’m keeping the faith.

    • broncobeta - Mar 19, 2013 at 11:13 AM

      That game was full of bad calls.

      Noah fouled Iggy on the final three pointer. Noah also pushed Chandler out of bounds late in the fourth and the Bulls got the ball back.

      I don’t know how you can complain about the out of bounds play. The refs reviewed it and gave Chicago the ball back.

      • pudgalvin - Mar 19, 2013 at 11:41 AM

        Please, if Chandler falling out of bounds was a foul, the refs missed about 900 foul calls last night. If that was a foul, Lou was fouled two seconds before that when he missed the layup.

      • broncobeta - Mar 19, 2013 at 12:15 PM

        Apparently you missed the part where I said:

        “That game was full of bad calls.”

        I didn’t just mean for one team.

        Butler threw his body into anyone he could find last night. And yes, Chandler was PUSHED out of bounds. He did not fall.

      • comeonnowguys - Mar 19, 2013 at 2:05 PM

        My point being that it was one of those that it shouldn’t have needed to go to a review.

        You can argue fouls/non-fouls all you want, but the review/lack of review of the goaltending/interference calls was clear as day and right there for you in the overtime.

      • pudgalvin - Mar 19, 2013 at 3:36 PM

        Look, obviously I’m butthurt about that game last night. But the point isn’t that the refs missed calls. That happens a hundred times in every game. It’s that the refs decided to throw the rulebook out the window during the last 50 seconds of a one point game. It’s one thing to miss a foul call or to let guys play, it’s a completely different thing to to review a non reviewable play for one team and not do it in the exact same situation for the other.

  4. comeonnowguys - Mar 19, 2013 at 9:19 AM


    More coffee required.

  5. chitownmatt - Mar 19, 2013 at 11:02 AM

    Am I missing something, I thought an offensive player can tip the ball as long as it is not entirely over the cylinder.?.?.?

    Am I wrong on that?

    Noah touched the ball when only part of it was over the cylinder, I thought that was ok.

    • comeonnowguys - Mar 19, 2013 at 11:08 AM

      I believe the rule is that if it’s coming down and could touch any part of the rim, you can’t do what Noah did.

      • pudgalvin - Mar 19, 2013 at 11:44 AM

        Basically, it was the exact same play that happened in the second quarter and a McGee alley oop, only the refs decided to review this one, even though the rules say they couldn’t.

  6. manchestermiracle - Mar 20, 2013 at 12:34 AM

    Easy fix for the refs inability to make consistent calls with balls on the rim: Use the international rule. Once the ball makes initial contact with the rim you can tip/grab it. Any rule that removes the variable of interpretation can’t be all bad.

    As the rule currently stands there is an imaginary cylinder that extends above the rim and requires referees to decide if the ball is within that cylinder. If they don’t have a good angle they can’t make an accurate call.

    Of course, not many of these guys seem to know what travelling, carrying the ball, or an illegal pick is either. To say nothing of consistently mucking up the simple charge/block (if the defender’s feet are still moving it’s a block; if the defender is set before the ball handler leaves the ground it’s a charge).

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