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Mavs Get Help From West, Hurt From Refs

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    NEWSLETTERS

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    Monta Ellis #11 (R) and Dirk Nowitzki #41 of the Dallas Mavericks.

    The Mavericks got help last night in their pursuit of a playoff spot, but not from the referees.

    While the Grizzlies and Suns both lost Wednesday to forge a three-way tie at 44-31 at the caboose of the Western Conference’s playoff race, the NBA league office admitted that its officials blew a crucial call that may have cost Dallas a precious victory.

    With the game tied against Golden State Tuesday night and with 16 seconds remaining in overtime, Monta Ellis drove the baseline and hoisted a floater that Warriors’ big man Jermaine O’Neal picked out of the air. I thought it was close to goal-tending, but maybe the ball had barely started it descent. To be fair, I didn’t think it was blatant goal-tending.

    But the day after watching the replay, the league office disagreed and sent out a hollow apology:

    “Upon review at the league office, we have found that a shot taken by Dallas’ Monta Ellis in overtime was on the way down initially contacted and ruled a block, should have been ruled a goaltend. The exact trajectory of the ball when touched was impossible to ascertain with the naked eye, and the play was not reviewable.”

    After O’Neal’s “block”, the Warriors gained possession and Stephen Curry hit a game-winning jumper. How big was the call?

    If the Mavs take a two-point lead and hold on for the win they’re now 45-31, a game ahead of Memphis and Phoenix in 7th place and only one game back of the Warriors for 6th.

    Instead, cue the drama of a four-game West Coast road trip that starts tonight against the Clippers.

    But let’s not start the whining, Mavs fans. Remember, twice earlier this season the NBA make officiating mistakes that helped Dallas to victories – both times non-calls on what later were determined to be fouls that would’ve sent opponents to the free-throw line with chances to tie games.

    It’s a tough pill to swallow and the NBA should allow goal-tending to be reviewable, but the Mavs can’t blame one call if they fail to make the playoffs.

    A native Texan who was born in Duncanville and graduated from UT-Arlington, Richie Whitt has been a mainstay in the Metroplex media since 1986. He’s held prominent roles on all media platforms including newspaper (Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Dallas Observer), radio (105.3 The Fan) and TV (co-host on TXA 21 and numerous guest appearances, including NBC 5). He currently lives in McKinney with his wife, Sybil, and two very spoiled dogs.