NBA confirms Thunder’s go-ahead basket was illegal

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) - Denver coach George Karl started to lean up against a courtside table at the Oklahoma City Arena on Monday when he stopped to move a flat-panel television out of the way first.

The screen that referees use to check instant replay during games was still in place, about 16 hours after it sat idle following a controversial call in the Nuggets’ 107-103 loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder in Game 1 of their first-round playoff series.

“Is this the referee thing we should have used last night?” Karl asked reporters before starting his interview session.

The NBA ended up agreeing with Karl’s take on the pivotal disputed basket.

In a statement, the NBA said referees Steve Javie, Zach Zarba and Bill Kennedy should have ruled Kendrick Perkins‘ go-ahead basket with 1:05 left was goaltending and disallowed it. Instead, it counted and put Oklahoma City ahead 102-101, and the Nuggets never recovered.

“Weren’t you in shock at the game? I think we were in shock that the call wasn’t made,” Karl said. “How can three guys (miss it)? We were in shock, I think, that next possession.”

Karl said he made his own mistake in the moments that followed, in failing to call a timeout to let his team regroup. The Nuggets, who had several players pointing toward the net and seeking a goaltending call, settled for Kenyon Martin’s off-target 21-foot jumper from the left wing on the ensuing possession.

Russell Westbrook then drained the clock to 22.4 seconds before hitting a jumper to extend the lead to three, and Oklahoma City went on to close out the game from the foul line.

“I’m not smart enough,” Karl said. “When your team’s in shock, you’re not going to probably have a good possession. I thought the guy was up through the rim. That’s how tight he was on the rim.”

Perkins‘ hand went through the net but then just outside the rim to tap in Westbrook’s missed 11-foot jumper from the right side.

“Although a player is permitted to touch the net while the ball is in the cylinder above the rim, Perkins also touched the ball while it was still in the cylinder which is a violation and constitutes goaltending,” the NBA said in its statement.

Perkins, who suggested after the game that missed calls are a part of the sport, wasn’t about to admit Monday that it was goaltending.

“They didn’t call it,” he said, before the NBA’s ruling came out. “So, it was a basket.”

Game 2 will be Wednesday night in Oklahoma City, and Denver trails 0-1.

“I think it’s a sign of respect. I’m happy they’re acknowledging the situation, but it doesn’t mean anything other than we can go out and win Wednesday night,” Karl said.

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