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COLUMN: Controversial Nocall Helps Thunder Pull Off Upset Of The Playoffs

The Oklahoma City Thunder needed some breaks and a very controversial nocall at the end to pull off the biggest upset of the 2016 NBA Playoffs by beating the San Antonio Spurs; in San Antonio none the less, 98-97 on Monday night and evening the Western Conference Semifinals at 1-1.

The ending of Monday nights game will be talked about for a very long time. If you didn’t catch it, here’s a quick recap of what happened leading up to that point. Trailing 96-91, the Spurs cut the deficit to 96-94 after Lamarcus Aldridge hit his second three pointer of the season, and then got fouled while shooting another to cut it to 98-97 with 13.5 seconds to play.

That set up the finish everyone is talking about this morning, and for all the bad reasons.

With possession of the ball, the Thunder were looking to inbound the ball and shoot free throws to extend their 1 point lead. While trying to inbound the ball, OKCs Deion Waiters pushed off on Manu Ginobili, which according to NBA rules is an offensive foul. Waiters inbound pass was then stolen by Danny Green, but the Spurs were unable to score(or call even call a timeout)and the Thunder stunned everyone by handing the Spurs just their second loss at the AT&T Center this season.

Immediately following the ending, fans erupted into a chorus of boos. TNT’s Chris Webber then burst into a rant with the anger in his voice almost as equal as the anger in every Spurs fan that was booing afterwards.

Look at this, he’s out of bounds! You can’t push someone from out of bounds! I’ve never seen that before! But it was an offensive foul, it doesn’t matter! They’re supposed to have the ball! The rest of this play does not matter, it was an offensive foul. Terrible! Whether you’re an OKC fan or a San Antonio fan- I don’t have a dog in this fight- you just want guys to have the best chance to win and not have it come down to the referees.

This morning, lead official Ken Mauer admitted that after reviewing the play, there should have been an offensive foul called on Waiters, which would have given the Spurs the ball with 13.5 seconds left. Of course, it doesn’t matter now. San Antonio now has lost home court advantage and must now go to Oklahoma City for the next two games, a city where they are 2-11 since game 3 of the 2012 Western Conference Finals.

Chris Webber is also right about the referees: it’s not fair that this game, one of the best of these playoffs so far, came down to and will be remembered for poor officiating at the end. Unfortunately, this isn’t new for the Spurs. There have been several great NBA Playoff games over the last 8 years that have been marred by bad officiating, and the Spurs have usually been on the wrong side of it. One controversial ending like this could change the momentum of a series and with the Spurs poor history in Oklahoma City over the last 4 years, if San Antonio loses this series we could look back at Monday night as the turning point of this series.

Chase Risman


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