INDIANAPOLIS — With 1:59 remaining in the Bulls’ loss Monday night to the Pacers, backup shooting guard Marco Belinelli hit a mid-range shot to narrow the score to 98-94 in Indiana’s favor.
On the subsequent trip, a Pacers turnover led to the Bulls having an opportunity to make it a one-possession game, Belinelli, who scored a game-high 24 points despite rolling his ankle earlier in the contest, appeared to have saved the ball from going out of bounds.
Except the game officials, after briefly conferring, ruled it Indiana ball. It was a questionable call, but end of story, right?
[Related: Bulls notes from Monday night]
If only it were that simple. According to NBA rules, in the final two minutes close calls are supposed to be review on a court-side video monitor, but for whatever reason the officials declined to do so.
“[Referee] Mike Callahan went and asked them, and they said that there was no need. It’s reviewable under two minutes,” said an obviously frustrated Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau, noting that the explanation given to him was that there was “no need” to look at the play again. “It’s subjective. If there’s any question, supposedly you do it.”
The play derailed the Bulls’ comeback attempt and on the ensuing possession, Pacers All-Star swingman Paul George knocked down a triple, giving Indiana a 101-94 lead. The hosts didn’t look back, eventually winning, 111-101, but although the non-call was a pivotal moment, Belinelli insisted that the team needed to move on.
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“Everybody was talking about that, but the game is over right now,” he said. “We need to talk about the next game.”
Nate Robinson begged to differ. The loquacious point guard, winner of the Eastern Conference player of the week award, stated his case to the officials on the court, then to the media afterwards.
“What’s the rule? Under two minutes, you’re supposed to review, right? Speaks for itself, man,” he said. “We go out there and play hard, we don’t [act] lazy on calls. We go out and play as hard as we can, and for them not to review it, I just feel like that was being lazy. Not taking anything from the referees because that’s probably one of the hardest jobs to do, officiate the game, but for them not to review it — knowing the rules — that’s just self-explanatory. It shows that either they just didn’t want to it or they’re just being lazy.
“They never talk to me, so you’re never going to get anything out of the refs. I try to not even say anything, but it’s so hard. That’s for everybody. We all play with our heart on our sleeve. When we feel like a call — we see something, they see something different — but that’s basketball, man, and everybody’s not perfect. We’re all not perfect. We’re not Jesus, so we’ve all just got to take the good with the bad, I guess. Take the bad with the good.”