Goaltending should have been called, but changes nothing

By Jeff Caplan, NBA.com

HANG TIME SOUTHWEST — Mavericks owner Mark Cuban is all for transparency when it comes to NBA officiating. However, the league’s admission Wednesday that the referees should have called goaltending late in overtime of Dallas’ 122-120 loss to the Golden State Warriors on Tuesday night won’t make him feel any better.

Cuban was furious over the no-call that saw Warriors center Jermaine O’Neal block Mavs guard Monta Ellis‘ baseline floater with 16 seconds left in overtime and with the score tied 120-120. O’Neal passed to Draymond Green, who quickly got it to Stephen Curry, who made the game-winning shot with 0.1 seconds left on the clock. Cuban leaped out of his baseline chair and continued to voice his disagreement to the officiating crew of Danny CrawfordSean Corbin and Eric Dalen from behind the scorers table after the game.

VIDEO: O’Neal’s block leads to Curry’s game-winner

After a review of the play by the league office, Rod Thorn, NBA president of basketball operations, issued the following statement:

“Upon review at the league office, we have found that a shot taken by Dallas’ Monta Ellis with 16.0 seconds remaining in overtime was on the way down when initially contacted and ruled a block by Golden State’s Jermaine O’Neal, and should have been ruled a goaltend. The exact trajectory of the ball when touched was impossible to ascertain with the naked eye, and the play was not reviewable.”

Playoff implications were high. Golden State entered as the No. 6 seed in the Western Conference and Dallas as the No. 7 seed. Had Dallas won it would have moved just one-half game behind the Warriors. The loss instead dropped them to ninth place and out of the playoff picture, at least temporarily. Had the Warriors lost, their already slim margin for error to maintain playoff position would have shrunk with a tough matchup ahead tonight at West-leading San Antonio.

Dallas led 106-102 with 1:43 to go in regulation and 108-105 with 1:16 to go, but it couldn’t close it out, a central theme in the Mavs’ disappointing 4-4 homestand that concluded with the loss to Golden State. They also led 117-113 with 2:32 to go in overtime, but were then outscored 5-0 in relinquishing the lead. Tied 120-120, Ellis tried to beat his defender Klay Thompson to the right, but Thompson stayed in front of him and forced Ellis to take a fallaway near the baseline. O’Neal, who was dunked on by Ellis late in the fourth quarter, went up and snatched the ball out of mid-air.

The Mavs raised their arms in unison, stunned that no goaltending call had been made.

“I think his [Ellis’] layup has a chance to get to the rim, and if that’s the case, you can’t just get it out of the air,” Nowitzki said. “To me, that’s a goaltend. I asked the referees what happened. The explanation was that the ball was two feet short. If that’s the case, then he can get it out of the air, but where I was from, I think it had a chance to at least hit the rim. That’s a goaltend to me.”

O’Neal disagreed as he described the play in the  Warriors’ locker room.

“It was like a second away from goaltending, if you’re too late, and I was on top of it,” O’Neal said. “I blocked it, grabbed it and outlet it. There’s no way they could have called that. When your hand is on top of the ball, that’s a good block. I caught it like this (showing his hand on top of the ball), I didn’t bat it, I caught it like this, so there’s no way they could have called it goaltending.”

Turns out O’Neal was wrong and Cuban was right. It doesn’t matter. The league’s admission does nothing to change the outcome of the game.


  1. Damian Lillard says:

    Man,Javale McGee caught that ball in the air twice,and he got no goaltending call!So admit it,it is not a goaltend because if Javale ca n do that,anybody can!

  2. Justin says:

    The mavs got away with a lot of bumping and swiping towards Klay and Curry – especially that time Dirk karate chopped across both of Klay’s arms on a lay-up. The refs reviewed that play only to establish possession – despite clearly seeing the foul on tape.

    So that evens it out.

  3. Big Al says:

    So the game was decided by idiotic officiating and then the NBA releases a statement that won’t change anything. In the end, the Mavs were cheated and the league doesn’t give a care in the world about it. Now their playoff chances are put in limbo because of three useless whistleblowers, who by the way got to sleep soundly that night and wake up with their jobs still intact as if they did nothing wrong.

  4. Allycat says:

    If the coach and players say its a goaltend and its end of regulation they should be able to check after a timeout or end of game. That’s what they should do so the mavs could’ve won that game. The west has so many teams fighting for a playoffs spot this kind of stuff shouldn’t be the reason a team doesn’t get in or not

  5. pfandfrei says:

    I think this was a very very bad mistake by the referees. Indeed, it was a tough play, but it would’ve been so easy to call goaltending (even if they were not sure) and then go for the replay. By not calling anything, they made the play unreviewable. It was a poor decision, and it would’ve been even if the video had shown it was a legal block.

  6. defdun says:

    …like the NBA office says, you can’t see it with the naked eye – so stop the game and review it!. Nothing wrong with that in my view. Better than admitting it retro-actively which really rubs salt in the wounds…

  7. #30 says:

    tough call to make during the game.

  8. Elijah 41 says:

    NBA admit it was a goaltend but the result will never be changed…In kevin love’s shot attemp against shawn maorin is a foul and NBA admits that is a missed call..what’s happening in the NBA..This must be fix..

  9. Ken says:

    Balancing it out for old no-calls or not, the Mavs did not win enough previous games this season and that is why they are in this position.

  10. m. reed says:

    I watched the film. That was not a goaltend.

  11. Cam says:

    The NBA already said that the Mavs got away with clear shooting fouls on game-winning shots against the Timberwolves and Pelicans earlier this season, so this goes halfway to balancing that out.

  12. Cesar says:

    Gosh! Those three NBA stooges who officiates the games between Mavericks and Golden State must be smoking pot when they failed to call an obvious goal tending violation against the shot of Monta Ellis. Any sanction against these three?

  13. spguide says:

    Dear Rob Thorn ,
    You cannot see me either with the naked eye , but be sure you are an idiot .

  14. Wege says:

    Balances out with Shawn Marion’s game-ending foul of Kevin Love earlier in the season, doesn’t it?