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NBA playoffs: Officials admit they flubbed critical kick-ball call in controversial final minute of Pacers-Knicks

NBA playoffs: Officials admit they flubbed critical kick-ball call in controversial final minute of Pacers-Knicks

Officials took the spotlight in the final moments of Monday’s Game 1 between the New York Knicks and Indiana Pacers, marring an otherwise sensational finish at Madison Square Garden.

A pair of controversial late calls proved costly for the Pacers as the Knicks held on for a dramatic 121-117 win. Officials admitted after the game that they got one of them wrong.

With the game tied at 115-115 in the final minute, Knicks guard Jalen Brunson dribbled the ball over halfcourt. He then delivered an errant pass that bounced off the hand of Pacers guard Aaron Nesmith and into the hands of Indiana teammate Andrew Nembhard for an apparent turnover.

But officials whistled a kick ball on Nesmith, and the Knicks retained possession. Nesmith, who didn’t kick the ball, protested the call.

Twelve seconds later, Donte DiVincenzo hit a 3-pointer to give the Knicks a 118-115 lead.

Late moving screen hurts Pacers Then, with the clock ticking under 20 seconds, the Pacers had possession and a chance to take the lead while trailing, 118-117. Tyrese Haliburton dribbled over halfcourt, and Myles Turner set a screen on his defender DiVincenzo.

DiVincenzo fell to the floor, and officials whistled Turner for a moving screen. This drew the immediate ire of TNT analyst Stan Van Gundy.

“That is shocking. You never see that call at this point in the game. I mean, NEVER… That is a great acting job. Lot of great actors here in New York City; you see ’em on Broadway all the time. That’s as good an acting job as you’ll see.” – Stan Van Gundy 🏀🎙️ pic.twitter.com/AmhDxlLeH3

— Awful Announcing (@awfulannouncing) May 7, 2024

“That is shocking,” Van Gundy said. “You never see that call at this point in the game. I mean, never.

“That is a great acting job. Lot of great actors here in New York City. You seen them on Broadway all the time. That’s as good of an acting job as you’ll see. He technically was moving a little bit. Indiana’s gonna challenge. I do not think that they’ll win the challenge.”

Van Gundy was right. The Pacers didn’t win the challenge, and the Knicks took over possession.

Pacers coach Rick Carlisle opted not to tempt a fine in his postgame comments. (Sarah Stier/Getty Images)

Joel Embiid weighs in At this point, Joel Embiid had seen enough. His Philadelphia 76ers were just eliminated by the Knicks in the first round and were likewise on the wrong end of some late controversial calls in Madison Square Garden. He chimed in with his sentiments on social media.

While there’s plenty of gray area around the moving screen, there was no justification for the phantom kicked ball that set up New York’s go-ahead 3. All officials could do after the game was admit that they got it wrong.

“On the floor, we felt that would be a kicked ball violation,” crew chief Zach Zarba told pool reporter Fred Katz. “Postgame review did show that it hit the defender’s hand, which would be legal.”

Since a kick ball isn’t eligible for replay review, the Pacers had no recourse to correct the call with a challenge during the game.

Pacers coach Rick Carlisle was asked about the officiating postgame. He refrained from risking drawing a fine.

“I don’t want to talk about the officiating,” he told reporters. “We’re not expecting to get calls in here.”

The NBA admitted via a Last 2 Minute Report that officials made multiple critical mistakes in a controversial Game 2 Knicks win over the 76ers at Madison Square Garden. Tuesday’s report on Monday’s Game 1 will be highly anticipated.

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