An LA Clippers player tweets what many were thinking following Saturday’s Game 4 loss to the Phoenix Suns.
The Suns narrowly held on to defeat the Clippers by a final score of 84-80. A crucial moment came with 7.8 seconds left when Clippers forward Nicolas Batum cleared the ball away from Suns goalkeeper Cam Payne. The instant replay showed the ball very clearly looked like it was last touched by Payne before going out of bounds. However, the referees chose not to even review the game despite protests from the Clippers.
After the game, Clippers forward Patrick Patterson tweeted a vulgar post in which he tagged the NBA.
“While that doesn’t mean it won’t change the result, we would like to apologize to the Clippers for not reviewing the CP15 deflection at 8th second of 4th.” – Statement from the @NBA tomorrow .. » Patterson wrote.
Had the referees gone to the replay booth and seen that the ball was last touched by Payne, the Clippers would have brought the ball back by one point with a chance of winning the game. Instead, the Clippers had to foul and the Suns had two free throws to freeze the game.
Officials seem to have caved in to public pressure here. There had been a lot of criticism in previous games in the Clippers-Suns series about how constant replay criticism was ruining the flow of the last two minutes. A similar streak in Game 2 also met with widespread fan disapproval. Patrick Beverley pushed a ball away from Devin Booker in the dying seconds which was last technically touched by Booker. The referees reviewed play and quashed the field appeal to grant possession to the Clippers. But many questioned the policy of rewarding the defensive player on such a play on minimal technicality.
The problem with reversing this precedent in Game 4 is the inconsistency. Referees are expected to call matches fairly and consistently, not capriciously and arbitrarily. Fans on one side or the other will always be upset when an appeal is made against their team. So getting the right call is what is most important. The Game 2 referees took the time to make the calls well, and what will be remembered is how the Suns won on their own merits. Sadly, Game 4 will likely be remembered more by bad referees than anything else.