Agreeing with the sentiment of Los Angeles Lakers fans across the nation, the NBA league office has determined that Kobe Bryant was fouled by Dahntay Jones on a late-game shot that injured the star guard on Wednesday night.
According to Mike Bresnahan of the Los Angeles Times, the league office released an official statement on Thursday saying Jones impeded Bryant's landing area and the Lakers guard should have gone to the free-throw line:
The play in question has caused mass derision in the NBA community. With the Lakers down 94-92 in the waning seconds of Wednesday night's game, Bryant rose for a fadeaway jumper from the baseline that would have tied the game. Lunging in an effort to stop Bryant, Jones went toward the Lakers guard in an attempt to alter his shot.
Bryant landed on Jones, his ankle turning in the process, causing a sprain that will keep him out of the lineup "indefinitely," per Bresnahan. Had a foul been called on the play, Bryant (or a substitute shooter) would have gone to the line with an opportunity to tie the game.
Following the game, both parties made their thoughts on the play known. Bryant was the first to make a public statement, claiming disappointment about not being able to get immediate "revenge," per Yahoo! Sports' Adrian Wojnarowski
Bryant then took to Twitter, calling Jones' actions "dangerous" and criticizing the officials for the no-call:
Reacting to accusations from fans that he made a dirty play, Jones went on the defensive. He noted that Bryant's leg kicked out on the play and denied that he tried to hurt Bryant:
Jones also appeared on SportsCenter on Thursday to talk about his thought process on the play.
Bryant wasn't about to back down from his stance, though. Tweeting out another series of thoughts on Thursday, Bryant compared Jones' play to something similar Jalen Rose pulled in the 2000 playoffs and noted he wasn't afraid of being outspoken:
Whether Jones purposefully hurt Bryant, the result remains the same. Bryant is out of the lineup for an indefinite period, during which the Lakers will have to keep their playoff hopes alive. The no-call also directly hurt the Lakers' playoff chances, as they are even with the Jazz in the loss column for the No. 8 seed and 1.5 games behind the Rockets for No. 7.
It's ultimately unclear whether those two free throws would have led to a victory. But, according to the NBA, the Lakers should have had an opportunity to find out.