NBA Admits Refs' Error That Cost Mavs Game 3

By Stephen Hawkins and Frank Heinz
|  Saturday, May 9, 2009  |  Updated 10:39 PM CDT
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NBA Admits Refs' Error That Cost Mavs Game 3

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The NBA admitted officials were wrong when they didn't call an intentional foul the Dallas Mavericks were trying to commit before Denver's Carmelo Anthony made a game-winning 3-pointer Saturday night.

Dallas had a two-point lead and a foul to give when Denver inbounded the ball with less than 8 seconds left. Antoine Wright was clearly trying to foul Anthony, and bumped him twice.

But the whistle never blew and Anthony swished a 3-pointer from in front of the Dallas bench with a second left that gave the Nuggets a 106-105 victory and a 3-0 series lead.

"At the end of the Dallas-Denver game this evening, the officials missed an intentional foul committed by Antoine Wright on Carmelo Anthony, just prior to Anthony's three-point basket," Joel Litvin, NBA president of league and basketball operations, said in a statement issued by the league about two hours after the game.

"It's a shame the game had to come down to this, but that's the way it goes in the NBA sometimes," Mavericks owner Mark Cuban said in an e-mail to The Associated Press after the league's statement -- a move that, even despite the NBA admitting a mistake, will likely earn him yet another fine from NBA Commissioner David Stern.

Cuban was visibly upset on the court after the game, but had declined comment while standing just outside the Mavericks' locker room.

In the aftermath of the scandal involving former referee Tim Donaghy, the NBA has begun publicly acknowledging certain officiating mistakes.

Donaghy is serving a prison sentence for betting on games he officiated and taking cash payments from gambling associates for information to help them with bets.

A day after Game 4 of the Western Conference finals last year, the NBA said a foul should have been called against Derek Fisher of the Los Angeles Lakers on the final possession. That could have given San Antonio a chance to win the game and get even in the series.

Fisher jumped and came down on Brent Barry in the final seconds of a two-point game. No foul was called and Barry missed badly on a 3-pointer as time expired.

Mark Wunderlich, one of the three officials for that game last year, was part of the crew for the Denver-Dallas game Saturday night and was the one closest to Wright and Anthony.

"I'm almost as disappointed for Mark as I am for us. ... It's a call he makes 100 percent of the time," Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle said after Saturday's game.

Added Wright: "I was positive a whistle was coming, just like everybody else was positive the whistle was coming. I made a play on the ball like I was told in the huddle, and the call wasn't made. ... I'm upset like everyone else in this locker room, and I feel like we have a right to be upset."

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