Costly controversial loss
Referee Tony Brothers’ non-call at the end of the Thunder’s 140-139 overtime loss to the Utah Jazz cost Oklahoma City more than one game. It cost the Thunder a shot at winning the Northwest Division title and a shot at winning the tiebreaker over Denver.
Teams that win division titles are assured of being a top four seed and earn homecourt advantage in the opening round of the playoffs. Following Tuesday’s loss, OKC has no shot at the division title.
If the Thunder had won Tuesday’s game it would have been in contention for the division title. OKC would still have to defeat Denver tonight in the Ford Center and also defeat the Trail Blazers April 12 in Portland.
Under that scenario — wins over Utah, Denver and Portland — the Thunder would have owned the tiebreaker over all three division rivals — Jazz (OKC won series 3-1); Nuggets (better division record); Trail Blazers (better division record) and would have won the division by winning out.
Now, the Thunder has no chance to win the division title.
To reset Tuesday’s game, Utah All-Star point guard Deron Williams drained a 15-foot jumper to give the Jazz the lead with 1.1 seconds left in overtime. Following a timeout, the Thunder inbounded the ball to Durant, who shot a potential game-winning 3-pointer. Replays showed Jazz guard C.J. Miles clearly hit Durant’s arm, which is why his shot landed five feet short.
Since he’s a 90 percent free throw shooter, it’s safe to assume Durant would have made at least two of three throws. On a night Durant scored 45 points to pass LeBron James for the league scoring lead he never got that opportunity.
A few Thunder coaches and players vociferously protested the call as confetti fell from the rafters, Jazz players and fans celebrating a win. Durant and coach Scott Brooks, though, took the high road in post-game interviews.
“The referee didn’t call a foul,” Brooks said. “You have to go with him. He had a better look than I had. Sometimes you get those. Sometimes you don’t. We had a good opportunity to win the game. We didn’t get a stop. That’s the bottom line.”
Brothers’ non-call was debated on ESPN2’s First Take Wednesday morning and will be discussed all day on ESPN’s talk shows. One topic is whether Boston Celtics’ All-Star Kevin Garnett whining last week that Durant is getting Michael Jordan-like star treatment had any impact on Brothers’ non-call.
Where the call goes far beyond Tuesday’s game is it also impacts the Thunder’s playoff seeding battle with the Nuggets, who clinched the head-to-head tiebreaker with OKC because of Utah’s win.
Why? If OKC wins tonight, the two teams split their season series. The next step in the tiebreaker process is division record. Even if the Thunder also defeats Portland Monday, the Nuggets and Thunder would have identical 11-5 division records.
The next tiebreaker after that is conference record. That’s where the Nuggets have a huge lead. Denver is 31-16 in the conference, OKC is 26-21. Bottom line is the Thunder will now have to post one more win than Denver to be seeded higher than the Nuggets.
That wouldn’t have been the case if the Thunder had won Tuesday night. OKC would have still had a shot at finishing with a better division record than the Nuggets. That’s no longer the case. Denver wins the tiebreaker with OKC regardless of what happens the final week of the regular season.
Even though a win tonight won’t help the Thunder win the tiebreaker over Denver it’s still a game Oklahoma City needs to win to avoid falling in the tightly contested Western Conference race for playoff seeding.
Will Tuesday’s game have a carryover to tonight’s game? It’s the biggest emotional and physical test all season for the Thunder, which arrived back in Oklahoma City after 2 a.m., will be playing their sixth game in nine days and will be coming off a controversial, emotional loss.
Message Sent Successfully
Be Sure to Check Out Our Top Headlines
- 15772Oklahoma medical examiner reports cause of deaths in Grand Lake boat crash
- 12083Oklahoma State football: Todd Monken thinks Wes Lunt should've stayed in Stillwater
- 10914OKC Thunder: Thunder trio praise fans before potential departures
- 9909Report: OSU blocking Wes Lunt from transferring to the SEC, Big 12 and Southern Miss
- 9575Oklahoma football: Sooners get pair of commitments
- 8649Oklahoma City Thunder: Amnesty Kendrick Perkins?
- 8648Rockets guard Patrick Beverley bombarded with hateful Tweets after Thunder get eliminated
- 5321Student shot dead during botched home invasion
- 5132Will a MAPS 4 initiative involve a football stadium downtown?
- 4646Soaring gasoline prices hurt Oklahoma City area retailers
Back to share with a friend form.
Add More Recipients