Following a tight 131-123 overtime loss to the Sixers in a battle of No. 1 seeds on Wednesday, Jazz stars Donovan Mitchell and Rudy Gobert were among those critical of the officiating, suggesting the referees affected the outcome of the game, as relayed by Sarah Todd of The Deseret News and Tim Bontemps of ESPN.
“It’s tough to go out there and see how we fight and compete, and to have a game like that taken from us,” Mitchell said, after praising the Sixers for their performance. “Now, I’m never ever one to blame a ref, to blame an official – I can say I could have done more – but this is getting out of hand. There have been games like this that we’ve won; there have been games like this that we’ve lost. But this whole refereeing stuff. … We’re nice, we don’t complain, we don’t get frustrated, we fight through things, and the fact (is) that we continually get … screwed, in a way, by this.
“We won this game, in my personal opinion. You know?” Mitchell went on. “But like I said, I’m going to give them credit. They won. Whatever. Cool. But it’s been a consistent thing, and the question is, ‘Can we do it? Can we sustain it? Are we for real No. 1?’ And, yeah, the hell we are. And it’s getting f—ing ridiculous that this is what is happening.”
Mitchell was called for a pair of technical fouls in overtime — the second came after he yelled at the game’s officials for what he believed was a missed foul call. The 76ers, who shoot more free throws than any other team in the NBA, had way more opportunities from the foul line than the Jazz on Wednesday, going 27-for-35, compared to 14-of-19 for Utah.
“Our guys are not able to get calls everybody else in the f—ing league gets,” Gobert said. “We know we are the Utah Jazz, and maybe some people don’t want to see us go as far as we can go, but it’s disappointing. Three times in a row, Mike Conley is going to the rim, and they’re grabbing him right in front of the officials, and there’s no calls. And on the other end, there are calls that are invisible that are being made.”
Gobert went on to say that the way the Jazz are treated by officials is “disrespectful,” and that he hopes they feel “ashamed” if they rewatch the game. The All-Star center also pointed to Utah’s small market as one reason he believes the team isn’t getting a fair whistle.
“I don’t want to say that, but I really believe it” Gobert said. “… That’s why I told the guys: ‘When you’re a small market, you’ve got to be better than just better. You’ve got to be elite, and you’ve got to control what you can control.'”
The Jazz’s 27-9 record is the NBA’s best mark by a full three games, so if the team has been held back at all by the officiating in the first half, it hasn’t shown up in the standings.
While the NBA never suspends players for complaints about officiating, fines aren’t uncommon, so it’s probably safe to assume Mitchell and Gobert should prepare to write checks to the league.