NBA Admits Refs Botched End of Timberwolves-Mavericks Game

Dan FavaleFeatured ColumnistDecember 31, 2013

This was not how Kevin Love wanted to close out 2013.

UPDATE: Tuesday, Dec. 31, at 12:40 p.m. ET by Dan Favale

The league has confirmed that Love was indeed fouled on this final play.

"Through postgame video review, we have determined that Minnesota’s Kevin Love was fouled on the right arm by Dallas’ Shawn Marion while attempting a two-point field goal," the NBA announced on Tuesday (via ProBasketballTalk's Kurt Helin). "Love should have been awarded two free throws with one second left on the clock."

This probably won't make Love and the Minnesota Timberwolves feel any better, though, since it's basically the NBA saying "you were right, but there's nothing we can do about it now."

Well, except fine Minnesota coach Rick Adelman for correctly questioning officials, right?

---End of update---


Trailing by two to the Dallas Mavericks on Monday night with only three seconds remaining, the Timberwolves put the game in Love's hands. Ricky Rubio inbounded the ball to his bearded comrade, who took one dribble to his left before going up for a game-tying jumper.

But the ball traveled virtually nowhere, because Shawn Marion hacked Love on the way up, in what was an obvious foul to everyone but the referees.

No whistle was blown; no foul was called. There was only the sound of the final buzzer, accompanied by a sense of inequitable defeat.

All Love could do was stand there, panting and smiling in exasperation. While Love was left speechless, the Timberwolves' radio broadcast team was certainly not.

"Love moved to his left on Marion, Shawn had his hand out, he went right across the arm of Love," the broadcast team bemoaned. "That is unbelievable. Referees are booed as they go off the floor. Brutal!"

How was there not a foul called? Was it because this was the game's last play, and zebras are typically stingy with their whistles in waning moments? Or was it simply because Love isn't LeBron James or Dirk Nowitzki?

The 'Wolves coach seemed to think it was the latter, per Peter Kapsner of

He got fouled. I just wonder what that would have been if [Dirk] Nowitzki, LeBron James, all the top players in the league. … A guy reaches in on a last-second shot like that instead of challenging it. … Maybe they don’t understand Kevin is one of the top five players in the league.

Those words, however true, will likely prove costly once the league offices get wind of Adelman's public displeasure. They may also prove useful, bringing attention to the fact that officials should be more sensitive to contact Love draws in these situations.

"I'm the type of person that if you see a foul, an obvious foul, you call it," Love explained, via "And I thought that was pretty, pretty obvious. ... You look at the replay and it was obvious he got arm."

The "arm" aspect of all this is important.

ProBasketballTalk's Kurt Helin pointed us to the NBA's exact explanation of incidental contact, which states that the "hand is considered 'part of the ball' when it is in contact with the ball and contact with a players hand when it is in contact with the ball is not a foul."

Question is: Did Marion catch Love's arm?

It sure look liked it.

"Heh, heh," Marion said afterward, per ESPN. "It was not a foul."

Except it was.