When the referees did not blow the whistle despite there being contact between Oklahoma City Thunder forward Paul George and Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert on a potential game-tying three-pointer at the end of Friday night's Game 6, Thunder players were in disbelief.
As it turns out, the NBA stands by the call on the court.
Per the NBA.com, the league's L2M report classified the play as a "correct non-call" because George initiated the contact.
Had a foul been called, George would have had a chance to tie the game with three free throws and possibly save his team's season. Instead, Oklahoma City's season came to an end with the 96-91 loss.
Trailing by three points in the final minute, the Thunder had plenty of chances to get the game-tying basket. However, none of their shots would fall, setting the stage for one last opportunity coming out of a timeout.
George—a 40.1 percent shooter from beyond the arc this season—managed to get All-Defensive first-teamer Gobert to bite on a pump fake. Once the 7'1", 245-pound center left his feet, George saw an opportunity to possibly get to the line.
The refs weren't buying it.
When no call was made, OKC players were so stunned that they let more than 10 precious seconds tick off the clock before fouling to try to extend the game. At that point, it was all but over.
Afterward, Thunder coach Billy Donovan made it known that he believed a foul should have been called, via Sports Illustrated's Ben Golliver:
Ben Golliver @BenGolliver
Billy Donovan on no-call on Paul George: "[Gobert] clearly ran forward. He clearly banged into him... I don't want to say it ended our season... but I would have liked Paul George at the FT line... Most people probably looking at it would say that should have been a foul." https://t.co/31EFtw75xo
Donovan wasn't going to blame the refs for the loss, but he did admit that he would have liked to have seen his team have a chance to go to the line with a chance to tie.
It's a play that could go either way on the court. There have been plenty of instances in which the whistle is blown regardless of who initiated the contact. But in that scenario, the refs tried to let the players decide the game on their own.
Even with the L2M summary seemingly settling the matter, Thunder fans are going to have a hard time moving past this loss—especially if George winds up leaving in free agency this summer.