Every once in a while, an NBA game lasts longer than it should. That was the case Thursday night in the Kings’ 129-125 win over the Memphis Grizzlies.
The game lasted two hours and 29 minutes, but it felt much longer -- especially in the fourth quarter. With the Grizzlies fouling the Kings on almost every possession to stop the clock, the final period lasted 49 minutes.
It’s not often you see the final 22.1 seconds of a game take up an entire page in the official game book.
Part of the problem was the Grizzlies wouldn’t stop playing, even after falling behind big in both the third and fourth quarters. A secondary issue was the officiating, which showed up in the NBA’s Last Two Minute Report on Friday.
The first questionable call came with 15.6 seconds remaining in regulation and the Kings leading 122-116. Sacramento Kent Bazemore closed out on De’Anthony Melton in the left corner, and Bazemore was called for a shooting foul, sending Melton to the line for three free throws.
Thursday's officiating crew of Tony Brothers, Bill Kennedy and Mitchell Ervin made an incorrect call, according to the report.
“Bazemore (SAC) makes incidental high-five contact with Melton's (MEM) hand after the release of his jump shot attempt and does not affect his ability to follow-through naturally,” the report said.
That decision gave the Grizzlies life. Melton knocked down all three free throws to cut the Kings’ lead to three.
The Kings' lead was down to just four points 8.1 seconds later when Harrison Barnes reached in on Melton on the perimeter. Melton had the ball near the ground and, after Barnes made contact, the second-year pro shot the ball and was given another three free throws.
According to the league, Brothers, who blew the whistle, got it right.
“Barnes (SAC) makes contact across Melton's (MEM) left hand/wrist at the start of his upward shooting motion," the report said. "The contact occurs prior to Barnes making any contact with the ball.”
Once again, Melton stepped to the line and knocked down all three freebies to cut the Kings’ lead to just one a point with 7.5 seconds remaining.
While the NBA confirmed the call, the touch and the call for continuation were both highly questionable.
Memphis then quickly fouled Buddy Hield, who knocked down a pair from the charity stripe. With 3.7 seconds remaining in regulation, Sacramento's Cory Joseph fouled Memphis rookie Ja Morant before he could get into his shooting motion. Morant hit his first free throw and was called for a lane violation on his second attempt.
Hield finished off the game with another pair of free throws and the Kings escaped with the win.
The officiating didn’t change the outcome of the game, but very well could have. It was another lesson for the Kings, although they still figured out a way to win.
The Kings are a frequent flyer on the league’s Two Minute Report. Thursday was Sacramento's 24th game this season decided by five points or fewer.
The Grizzlies and Kings play one more time this season. Sacramento should be prepared to play out the entire 48 minutes because Memphis doesn't stop until the final whistle.