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The NBA admits refs missed 5 calls in the final 13 seconds of Thunder-Spurs

The refs in Thunder-Spurs looked like they made some bad mistakes. The NBA agrees they did!

The finale of last night's Thunder-Spurs game was a complete debacle. The Spurs made mistakes, the Thunder made mistakes, and as was quite obvious to many fans watching the game, the referees made mistakes. Today the league released its official routine report on the final two minutes of the controversial finish, and came to the conclusion that its referees missed five calls in the final 13.5 seconds of playing time.

Here are the calls the NBA says it missed:

13.5 seconds remaining: Manu Ginobili steps over the line defending Dion Waiters' inbounds pass

We noticed this last night. Ginobili's foot clearly crossed the inbounds line, which is a delay of game:

In the last two minutes of the game, this infraction is an automatic technical foul. The Thunder should've received an additional free throw, which would've given them a two-point lead and another opportunity to throw the ball in against a (presumably more sedate) Ginobili.

13.5 seconds remaining: Dion Waiters fouls Manu Ginobili

Again, still on the inbounds pass. This one was obvious live, sparking lots of outrage from everybody watching, including commentator Chris Webber.

Lead referee Ken Mauer and the NBA's referee association both admitted they had never seen a similar play, but it seems obvious that a player reaching out and shoving another player is a foul. It doesn't matter if he's the inbounder on the play.

This should've been a turnover, giving San Antonio the ball down one. Of course, they got the ball eventually.

13.5 seconds remaining: Patty Mills holds Steven Adams


We didn't notice this one reviewing the play, but yeah, Mills puts both his arms around Adams' waist, preventing him from getting open:

A foul away from the ball before the ball is inbounded in the final two minutes results in two shots and possession for the team that was fouled, so if this was called, the Thunder could've taken a three-point lead and inbounded again.

13.5 seconds remaining: Kawhi Leonard holds Russell Westbrook


Again, a Spurs player restricted a Thunder player from getting open. You can see Leonard yanking Westbrook's jersey:

This also would've given the Thunder two free throws and the ball.

2.6 seconds remaining: Serge Ibaka grabs LaMarcus Aldridge while shooting

There was a lot of banging and bumping under the rim in the final seconds of the game. The officials report rules that Ibaka held Aldridge's jersey as he shot:

This would've given Aldridge, a career 80 percent free throw shooter who went 10-for-10 from the line Monday night, two foul shots with his team trailing by one. Oklahoma City had no timeouts, and would've had to go the full length of the court in 2.6 seconds trailing by one.

* * *

Five violations might actually be a pleasant understatement! There were several violations we identified after the game that the NBA did not address.

There's also the matter of Waiters jumping while throwing the ball.

The NBA rulebook clearly states that the inbounder may not "leave the playing surface to gain advantage on a throw-in." However, the rulebook never specifies what is meant by "playing surface." Both occurrences of that phrase are in the section on throw-ins, and neither states what is defined by "playing surface." It's also not explained in the NBA's case book.

In today's two-minute report, the league explained that jumping was "permissible under NBA interpretations" of the throw-in rule. The report clarified that "leaving the playing surface" referred to "stepping into the stands," and that jumping was acceptable. So it's now officially legal for NBA players to jump on inbounds passes. Good to know! Maybe next time include relevant interpretations of rules somewhere in your rulebook and/or casebook.

The report did not comment on a fan grabbing Steven Adams during the play.

The NBA began issuing an official report on every call in the last two minutes of close games last February in the name of transparency. After the two-minute report ruled referees missed an offensive foul call on a James Harden game-winner during the Rockets-Warriors series, the league's officials association called for reform with the last two-minute report process.