The Brooklyn Nets should have had the chance to get the ball back on a jump ball with a one-point lead and seconds remaining on the game clock, per the NBA’s last two-minute report.
“[Cleveland Cavaliers guard Donovan] Mitchell (CLE) crosses the plane of the free throw line before it makes contact with the rim,” reads the official release from the league. It was one of just two incorrect calls in the Nets’ 116-114 loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers on March 23.
Mitchell appeared to intentionally miss his second free throw as the Cavs were trailing by one with just over 11 seconds to go. After a scramble for the ball, it wound up in the hands of Mitchell’s teammate Isaac Okoro in the corner for the game-winning three extending the Nets’ losing streak to five games.
Making matters worse, this is not Mitchell’s first offense.
According to the report, big man Nic Claxton was also improperly whistled for an infraction in the fourth quarter.
“Claxton (BKN) makes clean contact with the ball and any contact with [Caris] LeVert‘s (CLE) hand on the ball is incidental during his driving shot attempt.”
To their credit, they were not blaming the loss on the officials.
Nets Looking Inward After Controversial No-Call
“Listen, I’m as hard on refs as anybody,” Spencer Dinwiddie told reporters after the game in a video on the YES Network’s YouTube channel. “But we had to get to that point. You feel me? And that’s a bang-bang play. It’s not like he shoved somebody out of bounds or something crazy and we got super slighted. We had to have a cascade of events to even got there. So we got to be accountable for that one.”
It was Dinwiddie’s hurried pass in the face of an incoming trap from the Cavs that found Dorian Finney-Smith in a disadvantageous position, pinned along the sideline.
Finney-Smith forced a pass of his own intended for Mikal Bridges that went through the latter’s hands and into those of LeVert who took it the other way and found Mitchell whom Dinwiddie fouled setting up the controversial sequence.
“If they call it, they call it,” said Royce O’Neale, per Kristian Winfield of the New York Daily News. “I stopped trying to be a ref and just play basketball.”
But head coach Jacque Vaughn suggested he felt the report might reveal what it did.
“I didn’t look at it real closely but it’ll be interesting,” Vaughn said via YES Network when pressed on if he thought Mitchell committed a lane violation. “The way it came off, a lot of times, it doesn’t come back to the shooter without it being a violation. So I’ll take a quick look at it when I get back in there. But, [it will] be interesting to see.”
Now he knows for sure.
Fans Aren’t Having It As Nets Slide Continues
“How about they grab a rebound lmfaooo”, tweeted @NetsSufferer. And they were not alone in having little sympathy for the Nets.
Some fans were over the entire thing with @AndrewP163 tweeting, “Okay and now what? Nothing!”
Another user, @_cjherrera, could only not that “this was a home game for the Nets LOL.”
Brooklyn has just nine games to go to get things straightened out as they continue trying to work through the growing pains of new teammates. But fans came into the season thinking NBA Finals or bust and now are clinging to postseason hopes. A slide out of the Play-In Tournament is still unlikely but, with how they have played, not out of the question.