Editor’s note: Games 2 and 3 (and 5, 6 and 7 if necessary) of Warriors-Clippers will air on Comcast SportsNet Bay Area. Bookmark this page for comprehensive coverage of the Western Conference Quarterfinals series.
LOS ANGELES – The Warriors on Sunday received word from the NBA office that, once again, they benefitted from poor officiating.
In the wake of their 109-105 win over the Clippers on Saturday in Game 1 of their first-round playoff series, the league issued a statement acknowledging that a missed call in the final minute cost Los Angeles an opportunity to tie the score.
With the Warriors holding a 107-109 lead, Clippers guard Chris Paul dribbled into the defense of Steve Blake and Draymond Green, losing control of the ball as Green made contact. The ball went of bounds, the play was reviewed and the Warriors gained possession with 18.9 seconds left.
The league, however, stated that a foul should have been called on Green and Paul awarded two free throws.
"Under the existing rule, referees may only use instant replay to determine which player caused the ball to go out and a limited set of other reviewable matters," NBA president of basketball operations Rod Thorn said in the statement. "Just prior to the ball going out of bounds, Paul was fouled by Green and Paul should have been granted two free throws. Contact preceding out of bounds calls is not a reviewable matter."
Rather than Paul shooting potential game-tying free throws, the Warriors took possession. The Clippers fouled Harrison Barnes, who made one of two foul shots with 13.9 seconds remaining to give the Warriors a three-point cushion.
Upon hearing about the statement, Warriors point guard Stephen Curry couldn't help but notice that there seems to be a pattern of non-calls working in favor of the Warriors.
Or, maybe, Curry was hinting that the league office is particularly diligent about scrutinizing games involving the Warriors.
"I haven't read those decisions come down on many other teams this year. It's kind of weird," Curry said. "This is like the third time it's happened to us."
Curry recalled the Christmas night incident at Oracle Arena, when Clipper star Blake Griffin was ejected after receiving a second technical foul. The league said the next day that Griffin should have been assessed with a common foul and, therefore, not ejected.
The other instance Curry remembered came in the Warriors' April 1 loss at Dallas. Warriors center Jermaine O'Neal blocked a shot by Mavericks guard Monta Ellis with 16 seconds remaining. Dallas wanted a goaltending call but did not receive it. Replays indicated O'Neal's hand met the ball in its descent. The play stood as a block and the Warriors wound up winning, 122-120, in overtime.
To be fair, the league has made similar acknowledgements involving other teams, including one that benefitted Dallas in a win over New Orleans.
The Clippers, for what it's worth, did not dwell on the error. Neither L.A. coach Doc Rivers or Paul cited the missed call as an excuse – even though Paul missed a pair of free throws with 11.9 seconds left that, hypothetically, could have put L.A. ahead.
Curry seemed to understand their point of view.
"If we were down 0-1," he said, "it wouldn't make me feel any better."