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Nuggets Push Mavs to Brink After No Call

May 9, 2009 – 8:57 PM
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Matt Moore

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It's been a postseason full of questionable calls. And no one's really been happy with it. Most times when a team's fans call foul (or no-foul) on the officiating, you can attribute it to homerism and turning a blind eye to a team's mistakes.

Of course, there are exceptions.

The Dallas Mavericks held a two point lead over the Denver Nuggets this afternoon with six seconds left. The Nuggets inbounded and Carmelo Anthony bobbled the ball before recovering and swinging left. Antoine Wright approached Melo at the wing in full knowledge of two facts.

1. The Mavericks had a foul to give.

2. With a one-possession lead on defense with a foul to give, you always foul to interrupt the play.

Wright came at Melo with two seconds on the clock. And that's where things went a little haywire.

Wright moved in and reached in with his left hand. Replays show him clearly swiping at Melo's wrist. He impeded his progress and reached in. Unfortunately for the fans in American Airlines Arena, the official was directly behind Melo, and was unable to see the reach in. The other referees were either unable to make the call or didn't see it.

Wright peeled off to prevent a shooting foul. No other Maverick stepped in, as they were hanging to their man as planned. Melo, free with no foul call, pulled up and drained a beautiful fadeaway three pointer to put the Nuggets up for good with one second to go. An in-bounds desperation shot by Dirk Nowitzki was no good, and Denver took a 3-0 lead.

There are plenty of reasons to blame the Mavericks for this loss. Nowitzki missed a dagger that would have put the Mavericks up by four before the Nuggets' final possession. They allowed a lightning quick Nene dunk after seemingly icing the game with a Jason Terry three that gave the Nuggets the Carmelo possession.

However, this was a game with 61 personal fouls. There were 89 free throws. And yet when the Mavericks correctly used their foul to give with one second left, a play that so many inferior teams manage to screw up, and when the officials knew the Mavericks clearly intended to foul, there was no call. Terrific shot by Melo, but that should have been Nuggets ball, out of bounds with one second left.

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    ATLANTA - MAY 9: Joe Johnson #2 of the Atlanta Hawks shoots against Zydrunas Ilgauskas #11 of the Cleveland Cavaliers in Game Three of the Eastern Conference Semifinals during the 2009 NBA Playoffs at Philips Arena on May 9, 2009 in Atlanta, Georgia. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2009 NBAE. (Photo by Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** Joe Johnson;Zydrunas Ilgauskas

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    ATLANTA - MAY 9: LeBron James #23 of the Cleveland Cavaliers looks to pass against Mario West #6 of the Atlanta Hawks in Game Three of the Eastern Conference Semifinals during the 2009 NBA Playoffs at Philips Arena on May 9, 2009 in Atlanta, Georgia. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2009 NBAE. (Photo by Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** LeBron James;Mario West

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    Reuters

    ATLANTA - MAY 9: Joe Johnson #2 of the Atlanta Hawks shoots against Joe Smith #32 of the Cleveland Cavaliers in Game Three of the Eastern Conference Semifinals during the 2009 NBA Playoffs at Philips Arena on May 9, 2009 in Atlanta, Georgia. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2009 NBAE. (Photo by Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** Joe Johnson;Joe Smith

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The argument could be made that Wright should have fouled harder. On the other hand, given what we've seen from the league lately, what are the odds he would have been tagged with a flagrant? If he wraps Melo up and Melo flops, that could be two shots and the ball. You could argue that Wright shouldn't have peeled off after the foul attempt, but if he follows through with the defense, he could get tagged with a shooting foul.

The Mavericks did a ton right in this game. Nowitzki was beastly, with 33 points and 16 rebounds. Brandon Bass had 16 points off the bench to light the Mavericks in the fourth. Yet it was Chauncey Billups for the Nuggets making huge shot after huge shot again, along with key plays from Kenyon Martin that made the Nuggets win possible. It was tightly contested, with neither team getting a lead of more than six.

So Denver goes up 3-0, all but ending the series. Dallas may take Game 4 out of pride, but the odds are insurmountable at this point. And with the way this game ended, Dallas may have to ask "What else could we do?"

UPDATE: This just in from the league: " At the end of the Dallas-Denver game this evening, the officials missed an intentional foul committed by Antoine Wright on Carmelo Anthony, just prior to Anthony's 3-point basket."

Well, thanks, NBA. That helps a lot. I'm sure that Mark Cuban, Josh Howard, and the entire 214 area code will be totally satisfied with that statement as the only consequence.
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