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NBA: Referees missed foul on Kobe vs 'Wolves

Published on NewsOK Modified: March 28, 2013 at 3:45 pm •  Published: March 28, 2013

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Everyone in the Timberwolves locker room on Wednesday night believed Kobe Bryant got away with a foul that allowed the Los Angeles Lakers to hold on to a much-needed victory in Minnesota.

On Thursday, the NBA agreed with them: The league informed the Timberwolves that the referee crew should have called Bryant for a foul on a potential game-tying 3-pointer at the buzzer.

"Video review by the league office confirmed that Kobe Bryant fouled Rubio while Rubio was in his shooting motion," the league said on its website. "Rubio should have been awarded three free throws."

It won't change the outcome of the game, a 120-117 victory for the Lakers, who have beaten the Timberwolves 22 straight times and are clinging to the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference. It also may do little to assuage a feeling in the Timberwolves organization that they are not getting the same respect from the officials that more star-laden teams receive.

But it will at least give Ricky Rubio, coach Rick Adelman and the rest of a frustrated team a little bit of solace that their disappointment was justified this time.

"We have to earn the respect," Rubio said. "But I don't understand how things go sometimes. We just want to play basketball, play hard as we can and do all the things. Sometimes it's not fair because we give 100 percent and sometimes we can't control things. But we have to improve things that we can control."

Bryant, who scored 31 points, stepped to the line for his second free throw with 3.4 seconds remaining and a chance to ice the game. He struck a pose after releasing the shot, which resulted in him being caught out of position when the ball bounced off the rim and into Rubio's hands.

The point guard zipped by Bryant and darted up the court, rising up for a 28-foot runner. He released it just before the buzzer sounded and Bryant came from behind to try to block the shot. Replays showed that Bryant hit Rubio's right wrist. When no foul was called, an exasperated Rubio protested, but referee Jason Phillips dismissed him.

Adelman was asked after the game if he thought Rubio was fouled.

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