Pelicans challenge referees as officials admit two late errors

DALLAS — The long day of the New Orleans Pelicans ended in tumultuous fashion Thursday night.

After starting the day in Denver, flying to Dallas for a game midday and falling as much as 31 points behind against the Dallas Mavericks, the Pelicans still had a chance to level the game in the final seconds.

Unfortunately for the pelicans, the calls didn’t go in the right direction.

“The players should have decided the game, but they didn’t,” said New Orleans forward Larry Nance Jr. after the 111-106 loss.

A furious comeback resulted in the Mavericks batting the ball with 6.6 seconds remaining. Dallas’ Josh Green stood closest to the Pelicans bench on the sidelines while the 6-foot-8 Brandon Ingram and his 7-foot-3 wingspan guarded the ball.

As Green tried to let the inbounds pass, Ingram jumped up and touched the ball with his left hand. Nance corralled the ball but Brent Barnaky, the official closest to the inbounds play, whistled and said Ingram went out of bounds. The clock also ticked down from 4.9 seconds to 3.4 seconds while Nance had the ball.

Officials let the Mavericks bring in the ball again, and this time it was successful. Spencer Dinwiddie knocked down two free throws with 2.4 seconds left to give Dallas the five-point win.

After the game, officials admitted to errors on both the call and the watch.

“According to media reports after the game, Ingram was not off when he touched the ball,” the pool report said.

On the subject of the clock, the report said: “The game clock continued to run after it was whistled for the end.”

“So two mistakes were made,” Nance said. “The clock was wrong and the call was wrong. … I just hope we get the same calls back home. That would be nice.”

Nance later quoted a video of the play and wrote, “This play is going to be heavy and cause sleepless nights,” referring to a National Basketball Referees Association tweet on their official Twitter account about the missed call to LeBron James from Los Angeles went Lakers-Boston Celtics game last week.

Both CJ McCollum and Nance told officials they had possession of the ball. So if an accidental whistle were to be awarded, the Pelicans should have possession. Trey Murphy III asked officials why the extension had expired.

Pelicans coach Willie Green said the team received no explanation on either front, aside from Ingram being out of bounds.

“You missed the call,” McCollum said. “They said he deflected the ball while out of bounds. And I said, ‘How is that possible when he jumped?’ Either he was over the line or he wasn’t over the line, he didn’t land and didn’t hit the ball, he hit the ball while it was in the air. [The official] said from his point of view he was out of bounds.

“He deflected the ball and we had the ball and possession. I had a great view [at a shot], You know what I mean? It’s a make-or-miss league. We shouldn’t have been down 30, but that game definitely influenced the end of the game.”

Ahead of the 2021-22 season, the NBA changed rules that allowed officials to initiate an out-of-bounds call reconsideration in the final two minutes of the fourth quarter and the final two minutes of overtime.

The Pelicans could have taken a time-out to check the call with a coach challenge, but they had used their coach’s challenge at 7-12 in the third quarter to knock down a foul call on Ingram. It would have been his fourth foul back then, and the duel was successful.

In that game, Mavericks star Luka Doncic went up for a shot and Ingram got the ball on the block. However, Doncic fell badly and injured his heel. He stayed in the game after the challenge but immediately looked to the bench as he got back on defense, checked out and headed to the locker room. When Doncic checked out, the Mavericks were up 84-57.

Speaking to reporters after the game, Ingram had yet to watch video of the final but said his teammates and coaches had told him he was within limits.

“I thought I took a good deflection and I thought I was within bounds when I caught the ball and threw it in, but the referee saw otherwise,” said Ingram. “I can’t go back.”

Teams typically fly into cities the day before a game — or very late at night, or early in the morning in the event of a clash — but freezing conditions in the Dallas-Fort Worth area made getting there from Denver difficult on Wednesday .

The Pelicans had several options — including flying back to New Orleans and flying from there to Dallas Thursday morning, or flying to Oklahoma City Wednesday and taking the bus to Dallas Wednesday night — but they chose to stay in Denver and do the same train and fly on Thursday.

The team landed in Dallas at 12:41 p.m. local time and reached the hotel around 2:00 p.m. Some players only spent two hours at the hotel before going to the arena for the game.

Any indolence showed as New Orleans struggled mightily in the first half, trailing 70-43 at the break.

“Not an ideal day, not an ideal situation, but I don’t like excuses,” McCollum said. “I thought we came out flat, we came out sluggish in the first half and we paid the price to fight back. But it was definitely a tough day. A tough day of travel so routine wasn’t what it usually was. treatment, schedule, all that stuff. And you know, they, I think they came here to rest for a few days. I think that showed them the first 24 minutes.

The loss was the tenth straight for the Pelicans, dropping the team to 26-27 in the season. The team briefly topped the Western Conference in December but has now lost 15 of their last 18 and sits 10th overall.

The Pelicans intermittently went 3-16 last season but never had a 10-game losing streak. They pulled out of that hole to make the play-in tournament and eventually earn the No. 8 seed. After a promising start to this season, they were hoping not to play in the Play-In tournament, but injuries have put paid to that.

Ingram missed two months with a bruised toe and Zion Williamson has not played since January 2 with a hamstring injury. Williamson’s next evaluation is expected next week, although he has started jogging and light sprint work.

There is hope that once Williamson is back and Ingram is back on form – he had 26 points, nine rebounds and seven assists in his best game since returning from injury on Thursday – the wins will return. Until then, the team can look back on the experiences of the past year for hope of a turnaround.

“I say it all the time, not only in sports but in life when you’re going through adversity, going through tough times like we are in the basketball world now, you evaluate your life,” Green said. “Many people go through adversity. You’re going through tough times. What are you doing in these times? Are you doing something drastic and changing everything you’re doing or are you trying to stay the course, make some tweaks and adjustments and those are the things we’re going to do.”

However, Thursday’s loss spells an extra sting for the team as they return home to face the Lakers on Saturday.

“You would have liked a chance to take a shot on the track or miss, but we dug into the hard hole, climbed out, fought our way back and then came up short,” said McCollum. “Now we need to get back to the drawing board and rest and recover a bit and try to get a win at home.”

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