NBA absolves referees on critical no-call in Knicks’ loss


A day after the Knicks’ foul-filled loss to the Raptors, the NBA reviewed the film and cleared its officials of wrongdoing — late in the game at least.

The league’s Last Two Minute Report, released Tuesday, did not find a missed call (or a missed no-call) in the final two minutes of regulation or overtime in the Knicks’ 123-121 loss at the Garden on Monday night.

Knicks coach Tom Thibodeau said he wanted to review the film first before criticizing the officials, but acknowledged, “It was hard to tell what a foul was.”

On one play, which has drawn scrutiny, the NBA admitted Toronto’s Scottie Barnes made contact with the “upper off-arm” of RJ Barrett, whose dunk with 1.2 seconds remaining in regulation tied the score at 110-110. A foul call would have given Barrett a chance to put the Knicks in the lead. But the league found the swallowed whistle was a correct no-call because the contact did “not affect the speed, quickness, balance and/or rhythm of his shot.”

RJ Barrett dunks late in the fourth quarter to send the game to overtime.
RJ Barrett dunks late in the fourth quarter to send the game to overtime.
Jason Szenes

“At that point in time, the refs aren’t really going to call a foul,” Barrett said Monday. “Just got to go up strong. Didn’t really matter who’s there.”

The Knicks were called for 28 fouls, three more than the Raptors, and Toronto turned that into 41 free throws, six more than the Knicks. The Knicks shot 68 2-pointers, 16 more than the Raptors, and such an advantage tends to lead to more fouls drawn.

Thibodeau challenged a shooting foul called on Jalen Brunson with 3:27 left in overtime, arguing Barnes pushed Brunson into Fred VanVleet. The challenge was denied, and VanVleet hit both free throws to bump the Raptors’ lead to three.

Because the play did not come within the last two minutes, it was not reviewed publicly.

“I don’t really care if a game’s called tight or if it’s called loose. I just want consistency,” Thibodeau said. “That’s what I look for. And so, it was physical. It was. There was a lot going on. And so again, I wanna watch to make sure I saw what I thought I saw.”

When the Knicks host the Wizards on Wednesday, Kristaps Porzingis is expected to play his fourth game at the Garden since the Knicks traded him four years ago.

Kristaps Porzingis goes up for a shot against the Pelicans on Jan. 9, 2023.
Kristaps Porzingis goes up for a shot against the Pelicans on Jan. 9, 2023.
Getty Images

In Porzingis’ previous three trips, Knicks fans viciously booed the 2015 fourth-overall pick, who requested a trade while recovering from a torn ACL. Porzingis, now 27, recently acknowledged he has some regrets.

“Could I go back and do things differently? For sure, from our side,” Porzingis told last week. “I was hurt. If I kept playing, it would’ve been completely different. I’m young and listening to people and what they’re telling me on what I should do with my career. You don’t know any better. That’s how things went at that time.

“I can only say really good things about the organization because I enjoyed it so much playing there in New York and playing in front of those fans.”

Bradley Beal, who has missed five straight games since aggravating a left hamstring strain injury, is questionable to make his return for Washington. The shooting guard returned to full basketball activities last week.

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