Not everyone walked away from the Atlanta Hawks’ win over the Dallas Mavericks feeling as though they got a fair shake.
“That last play was supposed to be a turnover or an offensive foul on them,” said Kyrie Irving via the Mavs’ official YouTube channel on April 2. “I was headed the other way. I know the refs tonight, they’re going to look back on it, I don’t think they’re going to be too happy with that call. But it could have gone either way. I thought I was in great position. But that foul cost us the game, practically.”
Irving finished with a game-high 41 points – including 14 points in the fourth quarter – to go with five rebounds, four assists, two steals and one block. But he was only able to score two points in the overtime period going 1-for-3 from the floor and 0-for-2 from beyond the arc.
The mercurial Mavs guard hit the game-tying shot with 25 seconds remaining on the clock.
Teammate Luka Doncic committed a take foul with one to give. But, after the ball was put back into play, Irving was whistled for a foul on Trae Young sending the latter to the free-throw line. Young sunk both free throws, leaving just seconds on the clock and forcing Doncic into a desperation three-point heave with time expiring.
The NBA’s last two-minute report says there were two missed calls – one that should have been a traveling violation on Young resulting in a turnover. The other should have been called on Mavs center JaVale McGee for using his off-arm to shield Clint Capela from defending properly.
Contrary to Irving’s assertion, however, the NBA deemed that final play to have been officiated correctly.
Young’s explanation for the final sequence likely won’t make matters much better, either.
“I just got into Kyrie’s way,” Young said via the atlhawksfans channel on YouTube after the game. “I accidentally stepped on [Josh Green’s] foot, and it pushed me kind of into Kyrie’s path and he kind of reached at the end. So I was kind of a lucky type of a play for us and unlucky for them.”
For what it’s worth, Mavs head coach Jason Kidd didn’t seem to take too much exception to the call going against his team.
“Unfortunately, we got a foul there late which could have gone either way,” said Kidd. “But give them credit, they stepped up and made the free throws. And I thought Luka got a great look there at the end.”
Kidd did point to the Mavs missing 10 free throws – which included one by McGee that would have won the game in regulation – as part of the reason why his team fell.
Atlanta Hawks fans give Mavericks’ Luka Doncic the business
Fans can be brutal and Hawks fans did not waste an opportunity to rib Doncic whom many still wish was with the Hawks after being traded on draft night for Young. On top of going home with an L, Doncic was also subject to some rather harsh commentary.
Doncic has been criticized for his weight for years and he has even admitted to not playing in the “best shape” possible.
He had been working to that end just this past offseason, though.
The biggest blow the Hawks delivered, however, is knocking the Mavericks out of contention for a guaranteed playoff spot – the highest they can finish the regular season is seventh. Either way, they much like the Hawks will have to battle it out in the Play-In Tournament.