The NBA’s Last Two Minute report on Tuesday said Oklahoma City Thunder guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander should have gone to the line with 2.3 seconds remaining and a chance to tie the game instead of picking up a charge call against New Orleans Pelicans forward Herb Jones on Monday night.
In the waning seconds, with the Pelicans holding on to a 103-101 lead, Gilgeous-Alexander drove the lane while Jones slid in front to take the contact. The official closest to the play, Matt Myers, called the charge while James Williams looked as if he were going to call the block.
Thunder coach Mark Daigneault said Williams told him that Myers was in better position to make the call.
“It was a really close play, honestly, if they’re giving different calls on that,” Daigneault told reporters after the game. “That’s how close the call was. I didn’t have my challenge because I used it on the goaltend to take points off the board. I don’t really know, to be honest with you.
“It’s one of those where if they reviewed it, it would have been very close. Jones’ foot might have been down, might not have been. It might have been legal, might not have been.”
Both Daigneault and Pelicans coach Willie Green used their challenges successfully in the fourth quarter in scoring opportunities.
With 10:28 left, Zion Williamson was called for basket interference but that was overturned to a successful tip-in. At the 4:08 mark, Oklahoma City’s Jeremiah Robinson-Earl was whistled for a goaltending call on the Pelicans’ Jose Alvarado but that was also overturned to take two points off the board for New Orleans.
Jones said stepping in front with the game on the line was about instincts.
“Tried to beat him to the spot and luckily we got the call,” Jones said. “I know they told me they were about to call something different. But that’s how the game is. It comes down to those type of plays. And we came out with the win.”
On the ensuing inbounds pass, Jones threw it off Aleksej Pokusevski‘s back and caught it before being fouled. He hit the two free throws to put the Pelicans up 105-101 with 1.5 to go.
While the Last Two Minute report said Gilgeous-Alexander should have been at the line with a chance to tie the game, there were three other blown calls that could have made that a moot point.
With 1:14 left, Gilgeous-Alexander should have been called for a defensive three-second violation, giving the Pelicans a technical free throw and the ball. The Pelicans did hit a 3-pointer on that possession to give them a 100-98 lead.
Dyson Daniels also should have gone to the free-throw line twice in the final 34 seconds. With 34.0 left after recovering a loose ball in the corner, Gilgeous-Alexander should have been called for a foul for making contact with Daniels’ body. That play resulted in a jump ball that Daniels won, but the Pelicans missed a 3-pointer on their possession.
Also, when that 3-pointer went up, Thunder guard Lu Dort moved forward into Daniels’ body, according to the report, and Daniels should have been awarded free throws with 9.5 to play.