The Warriors have had a bumpy last few games with the officials.
During last Friday's controversial loss to the Minnesota Timberwolves, the Warriors were robbed of a late four-point play opportunity when referee Marat Kogut claimed Kevin Durant was not in the shooting motion when he was fouled on made a 3-point attempt. After Steph Curry splashed a triple to tie the game moments later, many of the Warriors, including Durant and Curry, could be seen taunting Kogut on their way back to the huddle.
On the ensuing Wolves possession, official Leon Wood called Durant for a foul on an alley-oop attempt that was well above the head of Karl-Anthony Towns. The foul, which occurred with 0.5 seconds left, sent Towns to the line to win the game, which he did.
After the game, Curry, Durant and head coach Steve Kerr openly criticized the officials for both calls.
While the NBA's last two-minute report sided with the officiating, former NBA head coach and current ESPN analyst Jeff Van Gundy believes the Warriors have a reason to be upset with the poor whistle in Minnesota. But, even going beyond that, Van Gundy believes the foul call on Durant at the end of the game was a way for Wood to "get back" at the Warriors for taunting Kogut.
"First, I totally agree with the Warriors," Van Gundy told 95.7 The Game's "Joe, Lo and Dibs" on Wednesday. " And I totally disregard the NBA and their two-minute report. It should have been a four-point play opportunity on Durant's jump shot. The call on Durant on the last foul against Towns was an awful call.
“Great officials make great decisions at the moment of truth — just like great players make great decisions at the moment of truth. Both of those calls, I couldn’t agree more with the Warriors," Van Gundy continued. "Now that being said, I thought, I have never in my life, I’ve seen players MF officials. I’ve seen them scream and yell. I’ve never seen a group of players taunt officials in the heat of the battle. I’ve just never seen it. I’ve never seen them point at them, gesture to them and all the stuff that happened after Curry’s shot. And I was disappointed in the NBA’s officials, that crew for not T’ing them up.
“I think what Leon Wood did with the Durant call at the end to get Towns the free throw was to get back at them for the taunting of Marat Kogut. And so, I would rather them have T’d him up and said, ‘Hey, the way you guys acted was inappropriate. It’s a technical foul.’”
Van Gundy has been critical of NBA officiating over the years, so it's not a surprise that he landed on the Warriors' side in this debate. The calls were brutal, and we haven't even mentioned the "hot stove" contact no-call. As for Van Gundy's theory about a retribution foul being called, it's certainly not something that can be ruled out. The Warriors have been pushing the line lately, and it's only a matter of time before an official tries to send a message. Whether or not that's what Wood was doing, only he knows.
Durant ran into another problem with the refs Tuesday night, when he was given two quick technicals and ejected in the third quarter of the Warriors' win over the Denver Nuggets. Durant, Curry and Draymond Green also were fined for their remarks following the loss to the T'Wolves.
[RELATED: KD's ejection a reminder of line Warriors are toeing]
Van Gundy believes the Warriors feel the officials have it out for them.
“I do think the Warriors right now feel as they’re being picked upon,” Van Gundy said. “And I think the NBA officials think that they’re being attacked — not just by the Warriors — but throughout the league.”
The Warriors' ongoing feud with the officiating continues to escalate, but with five games remaining in the regular season, the Dubs must regain their poise and not let their emotions get the better of them if they get a bad whistle come playoff time.