George Karl Frustrated With Officiating in Close Loss to Spurs
George Karl seems to think so.
The Denver coach was upset at a last-second charging call on forward Carmelo Anthony, which cost the Nuggets in a 113-112 loss Thursday night to San Antonio at the Pepsi Center.
But even Karl said that play could have gone "either way.'' More interesting was a distraught Karl talking about how Denver center Nene got three fouls in the third quarter that he believed were phantom and that the Nuggets regularly send in film to the NBA office of calls on Nene they don't believe exist.
First, though, to the drama at the end of the game. After Spurs guard Manu Ginobili made a running banker with 4.2 seconds left for a 113-112 lead, the Nuggets inbounded. The ball eventually went to Anthony, who drove in against Ginobili.
Anthony made a runner with four-tenths of a second remaining. But the call on the floor was a charge on Anthony, and the Nuggets were done.
"No, obviously,'' Anthony, who scored a game-high 31 points, said about whether he thought it was a charge. "What I think and what they called are two different things. I thought I made a great play ... It's tough, you know, just going out there playing as hard as we played out there and to lose the game on something like that, just tough.''
Obviously, Ginobili thought it was the proper call.
"When he jumped, I knew I was going to get it because I was right outside the (charge) circle,'' Ginobili said. "I definitely didn't want to make any doubts for the refs. A guy that explosive, it's hard to stop and pull up. I knew I was right out of the circle, and he got me right in the chest.''
Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said he didn't see the play close enough to make any determination on the call, saying he "just saw Carmelo barreling to the rim and I'm thinking, 'Oh, my God.''' Karl lamented he believed it was yet another tough call on his team.
"It's a play that I think goes either way a lot,'' Karl said. "It seemed like the referees, they like to hit us with tough calls. It was a tough call. Good play. Good basketball. Melo made a great play. It's close. I've seen it called both ways.''
All this talk about late calls against Denver riled up Karl for the second time in three games. He had showed displeasure with the officiating after a charging call on Anthony with 16 seconds left on Sunday at New York hurt the Nuggets when they were down by three. They lost 129-125.
Karl on Thursday seemed most bothered by how the officials treated Nene. He fouled out with 1:45 left in the game.
"Refereeing is hard to understand sometimes,'' said Karl, who at least said his injury-riddled team could get big man Kenyon Martin back next week from offseason knee surgery and should have big man Chris Andersen return from a back injury. "There are so many things that, it's just strange. Some of the things, it's just strange sometimes. Nene I think is the probably No. 1 guy in this league (that doesn't get respect from the officials, in Karl's view). He got three touch fouls at the beginning of the third quarter. He had three fouls called on him. One that took away a dunk.''
The three fouls all were called between the 10:19 and the 9:56 mark of the third quarter.
"If we show them on film, they don't exist,'' Karl said. "We have films that we send into the league office that (fouls) don't exist. And here's a guy that's close to an All-Star, and he just doesn't get a lot of respect. I think it affects you. We tell them to fight through it, forget it, refereeing will come back and all that stuff. It just sometimes seems that we don't get the whistles sometimes I think we earn by how hard we're playing and how well we're playing.''
No doubt the Nuggets will be sending in film from Thursday to the NBA office. Actually, the entire game was thrilling enough to be well worth anybody watching again.
The Nuggets (15-10) stormed back from a 102-93 deficit midway through the fourth quarter to seize a 112-111 lead on an Anthony layup with 7.1 seconds left. Anthony had scored with 8.4 seconds left on a dunk, giving him four points in 1.3 seconds.
After Anthony's dunk, Spurs forward Antonio McDyess threw an errant pass inbound that bounced off Ginobili's head. Anthony retrieved it, getting the official steal, and made the go-ahead shot.
But it didn't last long. Forward Tim Duncan, who led the Spurs (22-3) with 28 points and 16 rebounds, threw a long inbound pass from the right side of the court to the left side, and Ginobili drove in for the winning bucket.
"It was wild,'' Popovich said of the ending while offering a bit of a laugh.
Karl thought the same thing. But there definitely was no laugh.
Chris Tomasson can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter @christomasson