Officials Admit To Missed Last-Second Call In Knicks Loss

The Knicks lost their third consecutive game on Monday night, as their comeback effort in Houston fell just short. However, the outcome might have been different if not for an error by the officiating crew during the game’s decisive final seconds.

With the score tied at 103 on the final possession of regulation, Rockets guard Aaron Holiday corralled a loose ball and fired up a desperation fade-away three-pointer as time expired (Twitter video link). The shot missed, but Knicks guard Jalen Brunson was called for a foul and Holiday made two game-winning free throws with 0.3 seconds left on the clock.

After the final buzzer sounded, crew chief Ed Malloy admitted in an interview with pool reporter Fred Katz of The Athletic that Brunson should not have been whistled for a foul. A no-call would have sent the game to overtime.

“After seeing it during postgame review, the offensive player was able to return to a normal playing position on the floor,” Malloy said. “The contact, which occurred after the release of the ball, therefore is incidental and marginal to the shot attempt and should not have been called.”

Knicks players and head coach Tom Thibodeau were relatively muted in their criticisms of the officiating after the game, clearly not looking to give the NBA a reason to fine them. Brunson repeatedly – and sarcastically – referred to the game-deciding foul as a “great call,” while Thibodeau said, “If you look at the film, you see it.”

After watching the Rockets go to the foul line 33 times while the Knicks attempted just 12 free throws, Thibodeau offered some broader thoughts about the way the game is refereed, as Katz details.

“The thing with the officials — this is the way I feel about that, in general — is I don’t really care how tight the game is called,” Thibodeau said. “You can call it tight or you can call it loose. I just want consistency to be the same. And they have a job. They have to control and manage the game. That’s their No. 1 responsibility. They have to use their judgment, and I have respect for that. It didn’t go our way tonight.”

As Katz notes, the Knicks could technically file a protest, but a successful protest requires the team to prove that a rule was misapplied, not just that a judgment call was wrong, so it would almost certainly be futile.

The banged-up Knicks, who lost yet another player – Donte DiVincenzo (hamstring) – on Monday due to an injury, have one more game on their schedule before the All-Star break. They’ll play on Wednesday in Orlando, then hope to come back healthier when their schedule resumes on February 22 in Philadelphia.

View Comments (23)