The Brooklyn Nets faced off against the Washington Wizards on January 19, and while they came away with the victory, a big part of it might’ve come down to a key assist from an assistant coach.
Assistant coach David Vanterpool was standing up during a key moment in the fourth quarter where Wizards point guard Spencer Dinwiddie tossed the ball to the corner to Kyle Kuzma for what looked like an open three-pointer.
Vanterpool stuck his hand out and deflected the ball, and even with an official standing right there, the play was ruled a Wizards turnover and the ball was given to the Nets who eventually sealed the win.
The play happened with the Nets up six with under five minutes to go, so there was plenty of time for the Wizards to get right back into the game, and this shot could’ve potentially cut that lead in half.
In the end, Nets forward Kessler Edwards was given a steal. The Nets ultimately won the game 119-118, so the play could’ve very well played a factor in the win. In an NBA where anything can happen, the Wizards were still very confused by what happened there.
For the Nets, it was a solid win and Kyrie Irving chipped in a season-high of 30 points and James Harden almost put up another triple-double.
While the game had a thrilling finish, the player that happened five minutes before the buzzer dominated much of the post-game discussion.
Wizards Sound Off
Speaking to reporters after the game, Washington Wizards acting head coach Joseph Blair explained his feelings.
“My reaction was utter disbelief,” he said. “I’ve never seen, in my very long time of basketball, something like that where the referees didn’t see.”
Kyle Kuzma, who was the player the pass was going to in the first place, also voiced his opinion after the game by simply calling it “horsesh*t.”
For the Wizards, it’s definitely a touch pill to swallow, but the Nets will take any wins they can get, especially without the services of Kevin Durant going forward. Durant is expected to miss at least 4-6 weeks with a sprained MCL, so they’ll be leaning on Irving and Harden to carry the load.
The Nets have a lot of road games ahead of them, so Irving will be able to play in the majority of games going forward, which is definitely a big boost. However, the Nets would’ve likely wanted to use this opportunity to see how their Big 3 plays together since they’ve barely played since they got together last season.
It looks like that wait will have to continue and perhaps the playoffs will be where they can learn to play together, even if it means Irving plays in just half the games. The Nets have an interesting path ahead of them, so it’ll be important to keep an eye on if they can build any sort of chemistry together versus just feeling like an All-Star Game roster.