The NBA on Monday said Sunday night’s officiating crew was correct in not awarding Jimmy Butler free throws on his driving layup attempt with seven-tenths of a second remaining in the Heat’s 102-101 home loss to the Brooklyn Nets.
Contrary to the perspective of Heat coach Erik Spoelstra, the league ruled that Nets forward Royce O’Neale made a legal defensive play.
In the league’s Last Two Minute report, the NBA cited of the play, “Butler (MIA) jumps into O’Neale’s (BKN) body during his upward shooting motion and marginal body contact occurs to O’Neale (BKN) during his layup attempt.”
Sunday, Spoelstra made sure he spoke in measured words about the no-call, but clearly had a decided point of view.
“I feel night after night, you’re seeing in this league somebody just go absolutely nuts about a call at the end of the game and cry that that was what dictated the game,” Spoelstra said. “So I want to be measured with my words. But I thought Jimmy just made the absolute right play.”
Butler was met at the rim by O’Neale, with Brooklyn guard Kyrie Irving also part of the decisive defensive sequence for the Nets.
“I just don’t think he was vertical,” Spoelstra said. “I don’t think he was set. I think it was not the classic A to B, and I don’t think he was in position. I’m sure they’ll say otherwise, and at the end of the day, it doesn’t matter. But I think that earned the right to go to the free-throw line and see if we could have won the game.
“I don’t think we could have gotten anything better than that opportunity, right at the rim with Jimmy. It just did not look like it was a vertical play, where he was waiting for him. I think he rotated, O’Neale. It felt like Kyrie got something in there, but that’s just really unfortunate.”
Butler said he could have offered instant resolution had he made the attempt.
“I should have made it. That’s part of the game,” he said of the no-call. “I think we definitely got the look that we wanted. I got to make that.”
However, the NBA also noted that Irving committed an uncalled traveling violation that would have negated O’Neale’s go-ahead, game-winning putback basket, noting that with 15.2 seconds to play, “Irving (BKN) lifts his pivot foot at the start of his dribble.”
That would have returned possession to the Heat up one, instead of O’Neale’s follow-up of an Irving miss with 3.2 seconds to play to close the scoring.
With Sunday’s loss, the Heat have played a league-leading 14 games this season decided by three or fewer points (8-6), as well as a league-leading 21 decided by five or fewer (12-9) . . .
Tyler Herro’s career-long streak of playing at least 33 minutes is now at 21. The franchise record of such consecutive games is 37 by Anthony Mason . . .
Even with the time lost due to his injury, Bam Adebayo with Sunday’s performance moved to second in the NBA in points scored in the paint (576), behind only Milwaukee Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo (618) . . .
Kyle Lowry’s streak of games with at least one 3-pointer ended Sunday at 34, which tied his career longest. The Heat point gusrd closed 0 for 5 from beyond the arc against the Nets.