NBA Says Referees Erred on Pivotal Final Call in Grizzlies-Nuggets Game

Joe Flynn@@ChinaJoeFlynnContributor IApril 1, 2014

Denver Nuggets forward Kenneth Faried (35) goes up for a shot against Memphis Grizzlies forward Zach Randolph (50) during the third quarter of an NBA basketball game on Monday, March 31, 2014, in Denver. (AP Photo/Jack Dempsey)

Monday night's game between the Denver Nuggets and Memphis Grizzlies ended on a controversial note. With 0.7 seconds remaining, and the Grizzlies nursing a 94-92 lead, Memphis guard Courtney Lee missed a free throw that did not touch the rim. But the referees didn't call a shooting violation, and the Nuggets were forced to scramble for a shot with the clock running. The Grizzlies held on for the two-point win.

Here is a video of the final play, courtesy of

On Tuesday, the NBA released an official statement from president of basketball operations Rod Thorn, admitting that the refs missed the call:

Upon review at the league office, we have confirmed that a free throw taken by Memphis’ Courtney Lee with 0.7 seconds remaining in the game did not touch the rim. A violation should have been called with Denver inbounding the ball with 0.7 seconds left on the clock. Since the Nuggets had no timeouts remaining, they would not have been able to advance the ball to the frontcourt.

That last sentence is crucial. Since the Nuggets didn't have any timeouts left, they would have needed to move the ball the length of the court, albeit with the clock stopped.

Though the Nuggets have already been eliminated from contention, the game did have massive playoff implications in the Western Conference. With the win, Memphis moved into a three-way tie with the Dallas Mavericks and Phoenix Suns for the final two playoffs spots.

As it currently stands, then, neither franchise can feel too bad about the result. The Grizzlies avoided the dreaded ninth seed, while the Nuggets picked up another loss for lottery purposes. The real losers in this case were the Suns and Mavericks.

The public release of these official referee memos has been a recent development of the new Adam Silver administration. Unlike his predecessor, David Stern, Silver seems to be interested in making the league's dealing with their referees a more transparent process.

And that is a good thing, per NBC Sports' Dan Feldman:

Fans who spend money, directly through ticket sales and merchandise and indirectly through advertising, on the NBA deserve to know what’s happening in the league.

Kudos to the Silver regime for going this direction. Referee memos can be a bit trite, but there’s no good reason not to disclose them.

Hopefully these memos will continue to be made public. The fans want accountability from the league and the refs, and this is a good start.