Home > Charging, Denver Nuggets, Foul on the wrist, Good calls, Oklahoma City Thunder > Nuggets-Thunder (Game 2): No ref controversy, but examples of one bad call and a good one

Nuggets-Thunder (Game 2): No ref controversy, but examples of one bad call and a good one

In Wednesday’s first playoff game, Oklahoma City easily handled Denver 106-89. So there weren’t that many important calls that were blown that could have changed the outcome of the game. However, we did want to feature a couple of intriguing calls in the video below.

The first one has Denver’s J.R. Smith driving the lane, getting hacked on the arm, but no call being made by the closest ref to the action, Rodney Mott (#71). Through our watching lots of video of ref calls, for some reason most ref crews subconsciously put the responsibility of making a call like this on the ref closet to the play along the baseline, although any ref can call it. It just goes to show there’s some human psychology involved when other refs are reluctant to call a foul and “show up” another ref that is closer to the action, in our opinion.

The second play in the video shows Russell Westbrook pushing off in mid-air. We’ve seen this kind of call get missed alot (it is a difficult one to make at times), but Monty McCutchen (#13) got it right, and he’s farther away from the play than Mott is. Analyst Mike Fratello states that two officials got it right, but we slowed the video down and it was McCutchen who blew his whistle first. Perhaps after the first play that Mott missed, McCutchen took it upon himself to make the call on this play regardless of where he was situated.

From our observations, we see countless times where one ref will signal a violation in reaction to a fellow ref who has already done it order to provide support. We don’t have a problem with that, but Fratello’s claim that both refs got it right is a difficult one to prove, and is therefore irrelevant.

  • Pessimism

    The first no-call on Ibaka’s foul of JR Smith was horrendous. It was a four-point turnaround as it immediately led to an OKC fast break in which another bad call was made — this time a blocking foul on Nene when Harden clearly charged into him. Despicable.

    Another missed call was James Harden’s flop on a three point attempt. This guy has been flopping on three-point attempts all season. The refs should know better by now. Another three points to OKC in a shockingly bad 1st quarter of officiating.

    The consensus opinion seems to be that Denver was thoroughly throttled in this game. Nothing could be further from the truth. Denver played very well for at least the last three quarters. Quarters 2-4 are virtually deadlocked: Denver 74, OKC 75. The game was decided in the first quarter in which the refs put the Thunder in an excellent position to win the game. Shameful.

    • RefCalls-TopFlops staff

      Regarding the foul on Smith, we agree, and that’s why we featured it. We continued to follow the action down the court and we determined Nene wasn’t set in time on the play with Harden.

      That said, we can understand your thoughts about the refs having an impact on the game in the 1st quarter. As you know, there are too many bad calls/no-calls throughout most games which forces us to prioritize featuring the worst ones that could have changed the outcome of who won. The common way to do that is to look at the ones that occur late in the game, or earlier like if there were multiple wrong calls/fouls against a key player that forced him to the bench way too long, or fouled them out.

      Since we have to prioritize and focus on this subset of calls, one way you can help us for things you think that happend in the 1Q that determined the outcome at the end of the 4Q is to submit those bad calls/no-calls you see in the forums (check http://RefCalls.com/report for more info on how to do that), and we’ll take a look at the specific calls/no-calls you mentioned, beyond the one you brought up with JR Smith in 1Q.


  • None

    I disagree… JR Smith uses his off hand the exact same way Russell Westbrook does. He definitely gets hacked too, but that could be the reason there was no call.

    • RefCalls-TopFlops staff

      We saw that, and determined that the hack occurred before the light arm contact from Smith (or simultaneously), and the hack was much more serious than the subjectivity in determining the intensity of Smith’s arm contact.

  • hoops

    I don’t think so. Freeze it at 7 seconds. His off-arm is fully extended. The “hack” clearly occurs after Smith committed what was undoubtedly an offensive foul.

    • RefCalls-TopFlops staff

      Unfortunately because of lazy TV announcers over the years using phrases like “fully extended,” it has made the public (including ourselves until we started reading the rulebook in detail) think those phrases are in the rulebook, which they are not. So it doesn’t matter what position his arm is in. One has to look in the rulebook under “incidental contact” to see how the ref would need to interpret this:

      “The mere fact that contact occurs does not necessarily constitute a foul. Contact which is incidental to an effort by a player to play an opponent, reach a loose ball, or perform normal defensive or offensive movements, should not be considered illegal. If, however, a player attempts to play an opponent from a position where he has no reasonable chance to perform without making contact with his opponent, the responsibility is on the player in this position.”

      Smith’s arm didn’t keep the defender from doing what he wanted to do, but unfortunately for the defender, it didn’t change how he defended the play — arm fully extended or not. If he hadn’t hit Smith’s arm, then we wouldn’t even have brought this up, but he did. If Smith’s arm had pushed the defender backwards first before he got hacked, then it should have been an offensive foul.

      We’re going to do a more extensive piece on common misconceptions that have been perpetuated by bad TV announcers who don’t follow the rulebook and have made many fans think they are experts (like we had thought for ourselves) until we started studying the rulebook in detail.