PORTLAND — Sorry for the buzzkill, Blazer fans, but the team’s feel-good comeback punctuated by LaMarcus Aldridge’s game-winning basket at the end of regulation against the Dallas Mavericks on Tuesday night was set up by a call that was wrong.
So says the NBA.
On Wednesday afternoon, the league admitted that a “costly” officiating error occurred near the end of the Blazers-Mavericks game.
Through a press release, the NBA announced that the charging foul against Dallas guard O.J. Mayo was incorrect. The closest referee to the contact, Monty McCutchen, made the call.
The play, in which Blazers backup point guard Ronnie Price stepped in front of Mayo’s path on the baseline, directly led to Portland regaining possession for one final shot to win the game before a possible overtime.
The NBA release states in part that Price “did not get his body directly in Mayo’s path prior to him starting his upward shooting motion. Mayo should have been given two free throws with 1.5 seconds remaining and the game tied at 104. Instead, Portland got possession and LaMarcus Aldridge made the winning shot.”
The Blazers did not practice on Wednesday and did not offer a response for the NBA’s statement, according to the team’s communications department.
However, after the hysteria from Aldridge’s buzzer-beating jump shot on Tuesday night, Price acknowledged his slow rotation on the play.
“I knew I couldn’t jump up and block the shot because I was too late,” Price said while addressing the media inside the Blazers’ locker room.
Portland trailed by 21 points in the third quarter before mounting a comeback.
The action truly picked up after a back-and-forth of clutch 3-point shooting — Nicolas Batum, Dirk Nowitzki and even Aldridge all made shots from long distance in a span of 24 seconds.
Then, Dallas worked an inbounds play in front of the Blazer bench with 3.2 seconds left in an effort to break the tie.
Mavericks forward Vince Carter threw the pass to Mayo, who got a step ahead on defender Wesley Matthews by curling around a slight screen set by Nowitzki. Mayo attacked the baseline, elevating for the floater without taking a dribble as Price left his defensive assignment and slid in front of the path.
Price later admitted to being “surprised” that he got the call.
“I was,” he said. “I knew that it was going to be either a block or a charge. I don’t know if he beat me to the spot or if I beat him to the spot. I knew at the end of the game, they normally don’t make calls but something had to be made because there was a lot of contact on the play.”
A day later, the NBA confirmed the contact should have sent Mayo to the foul line for two shots.
Mayo, an 86.1 percent shooter from the stripe, had made 3 of 5 free throws on Tuesday night.
Mayo finished with 15 points (5-of-9 from the floor) with five turnovers and four fouls — which, as it turns out, the last turnover and offensive foul should not have counted.