Horrific Ref Call at Buzzer Awards Game to Rockets. Houston 105 NY 103

Referee Jacyn Goble became the most significant person in the game, as he called a foul on Jalen Brunson on a desperation heave from 30 feet by Aaron Holiday at the buzzer that missed badly in a tie game headed to overtime. On replay it appeared Brunson gave a clean contest — the two players barely brushing each other — and Holiday’s leg and arm doing the initiating if anything.

It gave Holiday 3 free throws with .3 seconds left — essentially awarding the game to Houston.

Precious Achiuwa had just come up with the defensive play of the game a second earlier — blocking Jalen Green‘s inside shot with 1.1 seconds remaining to secure a tie — the ball bounding out to Holiday who threw up the prayer from 30 feet as the clock expired, with Jalen Brunson contesting the shot. The video of the play is at the bottom of this article.

Holiday purposely missed the last free throw and Knicks called timeout simultaneously as they grabbed the rebound — but refs ruled the game was over — insult to injury — which really caused Knick coach Tom Thibodeau to HOWL at them.

Ref Crew Chief Admits they Blew It

Crew chief Ed Malloy, interviewed by Fred Katz immediately after the game, admitted his ref blew the call. “After seeing it during postgame review, the offensive player was able to return to a normal playing position on the floor. The contact which occurred after the release of the ball therefore is incidental and marginal to the shot attempt and should not have been called.”

But there was nothing they could do about it.

It ruined a tough, heady comeback by the Knicks who were down by 11 points with 7 minutes left but came back with strong defense and the scoring of Bojan Bogdanovic and Brunson.

Houston also got a lot more free throws in the game than NY — 33 to 12 — despite Houston playing a very physical game.

Thibs’ Thoughts

“Tough way to lose a game,” said coach Tom Thibodeau afterwards. “Tough way to lose a game.” he repeated. When asked if he thought was a bad call, he said: “You look at it.” When asked about the free throw disparity he said, “Uh yea.. we had 12 free throws. So. And they’re a high foul team. So. That’s the way it goes sometimes.”

When asked about the officiating in general, he replied: “It was Great. Great.”

The room was painted in sarcasm.

“We started slowly, but I thought the rebounding was terrific,” added Thibs a few minutes later. “Overall the defense was very good — 105 points. Our turnovers were high — I want to look at the film but it looked like there was some contact on some of those — but if we get those turnovers down we could win with what we have right now. I love the fight. We got down; kept fighting. Kept coming back and we had a shot to win it at the end.”

NY drops to 33-21, and have lost 3 of 4 with most or all of their 5 big men injured. At least Jericho Sims was back for this game and he made a difference inside. Houston improves to 24-29.

1. Houston Played Physical Defense

Houston is well coached by Ime Udoka, who did a great job with the Boston Celtics before being suspended for having an affair with someone in the front office. He has formed a team that has length and plays a tough, physical defense.

Houston also has Dillon Brooks, a known physical defender who some say plays dirty.

The Rockets start the 6’11 Jabari Smith Jr. up front — he scored 20 points on 6-13 shooting — along with the 6’7 Amen Thompson at small forward, and the 6’11 Alerpen Sengun at center — a 21-year old from Turkey averaging 20 ppg and 9 rebounds.

The 19-year old, expected-superstar Jalen Green is in the backcourt — the player that Gilbert Arenas recently said Houston wouldn’t trade for Brunson and Julius Randle combined — for some reason targeting the Knicks duo on his podcast.

Houston doesn’t start a pure point guard. But it’s not who starts, it’s who finishes — and they finished this game with Aaron Holiday at the point. Holiday is the 27-year-old younger brother of Jrue Holiday and Justin Holiday — and he killed the Knicks in this game in the 26 minutes of action he saw.

2. Brunson Hounded Into Poor 1st Half

The 6’6 Brooks guarded Brunson a good part of the game and played him very physically, Houston also throwing double teams at Brunson.

Brunson did a lot of distribution but was missing his shot in the 1st half — he was 0 for 5 in the 1st quarter with 3 assists and a turnover, and 1-4 with 2 turnovers in the 2nd quarter before finally hitting a floater with 33 seconds left in the half to pull NY to within 11.

Taj Gibson blundered with 23 seconds left in the half — fouling Jabari Smith on a desperation 3 with the shot clock expiring — which gave Smith 3 free throws and Houston a 14-point lead at the half. Gibson — who has looked slow to react in recent games — did not play in the 2nd half.

3. Houston Got Huge Free Throw Disparity

The Knicks are one of the top teams in the league in getting to the free throw line, initiating drives to the basket — but despite that only went to the free throw line 12 times in the game, going 7-12, while Houston was 23-33.

This also caused Knick twitter to be HOWLING after the game.

4. DiVincenzo Stars for Knicks

One of the players who got to the line a lot for Houston was Jalen Green — who went 8-9 from the line. Other than that, Donte DiVincenzo did a job on him with tight, frenetic Defense that caused him to go 4-15 from the floor and 0-6 from 3.

On the other end, DiVincenzo was lighting it up for the Knicks in the 1st half — and finished the game with 23 points on 9-21 shooting (5-14 from 3).

5. Knicks Starters Play Entire 3rd Quarter

But the Knicks were down 14 at the half and they got serious in the 3rd quarter — pulling back to a 69-69 tie on a Jalen Brunson floater with 2:45 left.

The starting 5 played the entire quarter — Brunson, Achiuwa, Hart, DiVincenzo, and Jericho Sims.

Hart was hitting big 3’s — he had 17 points on 7-11 shooting (3-5 from 3).

Brunson picked up his game and stared scoring despite the physical play by Houston — he’d finish with 27 points on 10-25 shooting.

Jabari Smith knocked down a 3 with 5 seconds left to give Houston a 3-point lead heading into the 4th.

6. Holiday & Smith Kill Knicks at Start of 4th

Aaron Holiday joined Jabari Smith Jr in killing the Knicks to start the 4th quarter — Holiday hit a 3 and a runner, Smith dunked inside, then Holiday hit a drive and Houston was up 85-76.

Then Dillon Brooks hit back-to-back 3’s and Houston had an 11-point lead, 91-80 with 7:17 left.

7. Bogdonovic & D Vault Knick Comeback

Then Bojan Bogdanovic took over — grabbing a rebound, scoring an inside shot, hitting a nifty drive, hitting another deuce, then popping a 3 and NY was back within 91-89 with 5:33 left.

8. DiVincenzo Pulls Hamstring

Donte DiVincenzo pulled his hamstring and asked out of the game with 5:12 left — which caused Knick Twitter to howl that Thibs had kept the starters in too long in the 3rd.

9. Brunson Leads Knicks in Final 2 Minutes

It was a dogfight down the stretch — Dillon Brooks hit Another 3 to put Houston up by 5 with 2 minutes left, but Alec Burks answered with a 3. Sengun made a drive inside to put Houston up 4, but Jalen Brunson answered with a drive.

Houston again went to Sengun for an inside drive but Precious Achiuwa defended well causing him to miss — the ball getting stuck in the side of the basket. Achiuwa won a a HUGE tip-off against Sengun — and Knicks had ball with a chance to tie with 18 seconds left.

Brunson came down and hit a CLUTCH 18 footer for a tie game!

Houston had 8 seconds and the Knicks defended well — with Precious Achiuwa coming up with the HUGE block of Jalen Green’s shot inside to send the game into overtime!


The Boxscore


Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.