HOUSTON – Okay. At the top, we’ll start with the cold, detached, rational truth of the situation. The Knicks didn’t lose that game because of a bad referee – even though that referee’s boss later admitted the terrible call that ultimately decided the game: “It shouldn’t have been done.”
The best that could have happened in the comically worst scenario that played out at the end was overtime, and the exhausted Knicks should have played those five minutes even more diminished. It would have been a daunting task.
So this is it.
The Knicks also stumbled, fumbled and fumbled their way to a 19-point lead in the second quarter, and after falling back in the third quarter, they found themselves trailing by 11 points midway through the fourth . Every time the Knicks rose up to deliver a knockout blow to the Rockets, the Rockets fought back instead.
So maybe Jacyn Goble had an opportunity to avoid being designated Public Enemy No. 1 long before she let out one of the most blatant whistles you’ve ever heard on a basketball court. Maybe if the Knicks had played a little better in the first 47 minutes and 59.7 seconds of the game, what happened in the final three-tenths of a second wouldn’t have mattered.
If that makes your stomach growl a little quieter, go ahead and talk about why the Knicks lost that basketball game 105-103.
It’s probably the healthy thing to do.
Probably better than watching that final sequence, after Jalen Brunson — his words: “I didn’t play well the majority of the game” — tried to make up ground by draining a putback from 15 feet to tie the game at 103 .with 8.3 seconds left.
Better than seeing the Knicks play terrific defense out of the timeout, Precious Achiuwa (who had already beaten Alperen Sengun on a critical jump ball that set up Brunson’s heroics) forces Jalen Green into traffic, then a desperate heave to Aaron Holiday, who threw his own desperate throw about 30 feet…
And you better stop there, before you see Brunson close out, on what, in 99.9 percent of cases, is the final prelude to overtime. That’s what most of the 16,790 people in attendance at the Toyota Center thought. It was a complete surprise to them that Goble raised his right arm. Mistake. On Brunson. Three shots for Holiday.
Because once we put aside the cold, detached, rational truth, we end up with this:
One of the most absurd and inexplicable calls you will ever see from a referee. In any sport. At any level.
“Great call,” Brunson said dryly. “Next question.”
It was a good half hour after the final buzzer, after Ed Malloy had walked toward the Knicks huddle where Tom Thibodeau was trying to put together a miracle play with what he said should have been about two-tenths of second after the holidays. intentionally missed the third free throw and Josh Hart grabbed the rebound.
Malloy waved his arms. Game over. Thibodeau had already drawn his first technical of the season late in the first half after Donte DiVincenzo was called for a kicking foul after being hit while shooting a 3, shockingly similar to the sequence end of match. For that and other miscellaneous offenses — such as the Rockets shooting 33 free throws, the Knicks only 12 — he let Malloy get away with a barrage of his favorite word.
It wasn’t “fudge”, “fuel”, “fund”, “fuzz”, “fuse”, fury” or “funk”, if you guessed any of them. But you certainly understood the first two letters correctly.
Thirty minutes later, his anger reduced to a boil, Thibodeau tries to be alternately philosophical (“It’s hard to lose a match”) and sarcastic (asked for his opinion on the referees, he replies: “Great. Great.”)
“Great call,” Brunson repeated. “Next question.”
And then he said it a third time. Considering the way things are going for the Knicks right now, it’s lucky he didn’t sprain his tongue when she jabbed him in the cheek.
It didn’t matter to the Knicks that Malloy himself admitted to a poolside reporter after reviewing the play that Goble was completely wrong. This isn’t Goble’s first offense, either. A year ago, after he called late in a Lakers-Celtics game (similarly, on a long 30-footer at the buzzer), the official NBA referees Twitter account apologized on his behalf, saying : “Like everyone, referees make mistakes. »
This one just sent the entire Knicks traveling party and that faction of New York basketball now engaged every night in the Knicks’ travels and difficulties into a rage that would make Joe Pesci proud. Goble didn’t call them clowns; they were just burned by him tripping over his big soft shoes at the worst possible moment.
The Knicks might still have lost in overtime. DiVincenzo was gone, joining the M*A*S*H triage list with a sore calf. It would have been difficult to get to the end. No guarantee, no. But the Knicks would certainly have liked to have had a chance to play this overtime. They deserved this chance. They were in office, that’s what they were. A shame.