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Oops, officials missed goaltending call against Thunder's Perkins

by Darnell Mayberry Published: April 18, 2011

A day later, Kendrick Perkins still wouldn't admit he did any wrong.

He didn't have to. The NBA did it for him.

In the Thunder's 107-103 win over Denver in Game 1 on Sunday, Perkins tipped in a missed jumper by Russell Westbrook to give the Thunder the lead for good. The basket put the Thunder up 102-101 with 1:05 left to play.

But it shouldn't have counted.

Perkins patted the ball back in as it was still on the rim, which, by rule, is goaltending.

“They didn't call it so it was a bucket,” said Perkins, when asked Monday if he goaltended the shot.

Roughly two hours after Perkins declined to declare his basket dirty, the league did, releasing a statement acknowledging the officiating crew's error.

“Kendrick Perkins was improperly credited with a basket that should have been ruled offensive basket interference with 1:05 remaining in (Sunday) night's game,” the statement read. “Although a player is permitted to touch the net while the ball is in the cylinder above the rim, Perkins also touched the ball while it was still in the cylinder, which is a violation and constitutes goaltending.”

You could make the case that two days later, the play is water under the bridge. And if you're tired of hearing about it, welcome to life after the regular season. The NBA playoffs are the place where everything becomes magnified.

The no-call, rather than the captivating contest, was the topic of sports talk shows throughout the morning and afternoon on major television and radio networks, both locally and nationally. And the reality, no matter how much Thunder fans might not want to believe it, is that one sequence could have shaped this series.

“I'd say it affected it a lot,” said Denver point guard Ty Lawson. “It would have been our ball. We could have went up three. It could have been a whole different story.”

Emphasis should be placed on the Lawson's use of the word “could.” The Nuggets on Monday weren't claiming that receiving a call would have changed the outcome.

“We could say that if they would have called it we would have gone on to win,” said Nuggets forward Kenyon Martin. “But who knows? The game didn't come down to that goaltending.”

The possibilities of how things might have played out differently, however, are worth pondering. That one play illustrated how quickly the face of an NBA game can change, even through one no-call. It's part of the reason why the league this season began experimenting with allowing players in the NBA Developmental League to grab the ball while it is still on the rim. The international game has long allowed the offensive goaltending, and the rule could soon be changed in the NBA.

On Sunday, that one missed call didn't decide the game.

But, like it or not, it did dictate Denver's disposition — mentally, emotionally and situationally.

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by Darnell Mayberry
OKC Thunder Senior Reporter
Darnell Mayberry grew up in Langston, Okla. and is now in his third stint in the Sooner state. After a year and a half at Bishop McGuinness High, he finished his prep years in Falls Church, Va., before graduating from Norfolk State University in...
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