Oklahoma City 98, Memphis 100. Twenty-seven seconds left in regulation. Kevin Durant goes to the line.
Makes the first free throw, Thunder down 100-99.
Official Joey Crawford tosses the ball to Kevin Durant to take his second free throw. Durant begins his free throw ritual. He spins the ball, takes a dribble … then Crawford sees something at the scorer’s table, blows his whistle, sprints to Durant and grabs the ball. Crawford, who loves to put on a show, then waddles over to the scorer’s table to bitch about something. It was a bizarre moment; surely some in the Dust Bowl will call it game-changing or series-changing.
Durant, an 87 percent shooter in the regular season (but only 71% in this series) missed the second.
Twenty-five seconds later, Durant missed a long 3-pointer and Serge Ibaka’s tip-in a millisecond after the buzzer was nullified and the Thunder lost, 100-99.
Crawford’s explanation, according to ESPN:
Crawford had asked the scoreboard operator to indicate that both teams were in the bonus on the scoreboard. This is standard procedure in the last two minutes of any quarter when teams shoot free throws on the second foul. Referees like to be able to look at the scoreboard to determine if a team gets shots on a non-shooting foul. Crawford had just called a non-shooting foul on Allen and the Thunder were in the bonus but didn’t immediately know it because it wasn’t on the scoreboard.
But the board didn’t change. After seeing it hadn’t been fixed, Spooner, the official closest to the scorer’s table, repeated the request. When it wasn’t corrected, Crawford stopped play and took the ball from Durant, essentially breaking his rhythm and causing a delay. Crawford stomped over and demanded the scoreboard be altered.
Weird, to say the least. What, he couldn’t have stopped play after the free throw was made or missed?
Game six is Thursday at the Grindhouse. Last year, the Thunder were bounced in the second round. Two years ago, they lost in the Finals. Regression + Kevin Durant’s contract only having two years left = panic in OKC if the Thunder lose that game.
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