Damian Lillard and the Portland Trail Blazers were livid Friday night after a missed goaltending violation near the end of their game against the Utah Jazz denied the Blazers a shot at tying the score.
“We get to the last play of the game, and they miss an easy call. And then they tell us that’s an easy no-call, that was obviously not a goaltend. Cost us a f—ing game, man,” Lillard said. “Cost us a game.”
Crew chief Josh Tiven later told a pool reporter the officials had indeed missed the call.
“We’ve since looked at it via postgame video review and unfortunately saw that we missed the play, and a goaltending violation should have been called,” Tiven said, according to the pool report.
The missed call could not be reviewed during the game because no goaltending call was made on the floor.
“Three referees out there, and they don’t call that,” Lillard said. “I don’t wanna see no report saying that we should have called it. They cost us the game. We in a playoff race, and they cost us the game on an easy call.”
Blazers coach Terry Stotts and guard CJ McCollum echoed Lillard’s outrage.
“It’s just a shame it was decided on an inexcusable missed call,” Stotts said. “There’s no other way to describe it. They could’ve called goaltending and reviewed it, but they swallowed their whistles on a play that was so pretty obvious. … It’s disappointing that such a great effort was decided by that.”
“Just makes me think you’re not capable of doing the job the way you are supposed to do it,” he said. “Which means you should be reprimanded; you should be fined accordingly. When we make mistakes, we’re fined.”
Lillard could be facing a fine for criticizing the officiating, both to the media and later on Twitter. When a Twitter user pointed that out to Lillard, he didn’t seem concerned:
Plenty money https://t.co/8F9sGrfVQp
— Damian Lillard (@Dame_Lillard) February 8, 2020
Even Utah’s Mike Conley admitted the last call was “tough.”
“It’s unfortunate that it happened that way, but we’ll take them how we can get them right now,” Conley said.
Gobert said he was trying to make a play on the ball and that he felt like the no-call overshadowed a memorable Jazz comeback from a 14-point halftime deficit.
“Obviously it’s a big play because it’s the last play and it’s what everyone is going to remember,” Gobert said. “But I think we did a great job playing in the second half. Mistakes are made. Officials are human. I feel like it’s all part of the game.”
The ending and loss overshadowed a 42-point performance by Lillard, who has been on a historically hot streak in recent weeks, and the effort from the Blazers, who had only seven healthy players available for the bulk of the final three quarters.
“There ain’t no way to take the sting out of it,” Lillard said. “We can’t have the game back. They cost us the game. It’s a loss on our record. We in the playoff race and we need every game we can get and we had that type of effort, and they missed an easy call like that. And then you want us to walk away and say nothing. Cost us the game. Of course we gonna have something to say about it. Man, that’s B.S.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.