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Alvin Gentry says referees made ‘wrong call’ late in Pelicans’ loss

Brooklyn Nets v New Orleans Pelicans

NEW ORLEANS, LOUISIANA - DECEMBER 17: Head coach Alvin Gentry of the New Orleans Pelicans looks on during a NBA game against the Brooklyn Nets at Smoothie King Center on December 17, 2019 in New Orleans, Louisiana. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images)

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What exactly is the point of having video review if officials are not going to use it on critical plays at the end of games? It feels like we’ve seen more of a “this is our call, don’t question it” attitude from referees this season rather than a desire to make sure the call is right at critical moments.

Case in point, the final seconds of the Pelicans eventual overtime loss to the Nets Wednesday.

With the game tied 93-93 and time running down, Brooklyn tried to eat up as much of the shot clock as they could before taking a shot, but then Spencer Dinwiddie badly missed a three that hit nothing. It should have been a shot clock violation and Pelicans ball with 2.7 seconds left (and New Orleans had a timeout left to advance the ball for a final shot). Instead, the referees ruled it hit the rim, and there was no review. Even the Brooklyn broadcast on the YES Network said the officials missed this one.

Pelicans coach Alvin Gentry was asking after the game what everyone was asking: Why not just review the call and get it right?
Via Andrew Lopez at ESPN, Gentry called it the “wrong call.”

“The ball clearly did not hit the rim, and all they had to do was go over and review it to see that it didn’t hit the rim,” Gentry said. “There was at least 2.7 seconds left to go in the game after it didn’t hit the rim, and that was a shot clock violation. I asked them to review it three times. They said it clearly hit the rim.

“It would have taken five seconds to see that it didn’t. I mean, that’s all that needs to be said about it. It was clearly a ball that did not hit the rim. You guys saw it. Everybody saw it. I have no idea why they didn’t go over and review it. I don’t know if this is the correct thing or not, but I thought that at the end of the game, or in situations like that, there would always be a review.”

There was no comment from the officials. Apparently, because they didn’t make a call on the court there was nothing to review. However, that comes off as an empty, semantic argument when the video was readily available and could have been watched — or the Replay Center could have sent a message to the officials that it should be reviewed — then the final seconds replayed. This comes off as the referees protecting themselves and their egos over getting the call right.

Refereeing an NBA game is impossibly hard and the officials in the league are the best in the world (fans scoff at that, but go watch college or FIBA refs and get back to me). They do an amazingly good job, and humans are going to miss calls. It happens. The key is a willingness to admit it — check the evidence and make sure the call is right. It’s the point of having all the technology and a Replay Center in Secaucus.

Would the Pelicans have hit a game-winner and snapped their 12-game losing streak? Maybe, or maybe they miss, it goes to overtime, and that OT plays out just like the one we got and the Nets win. We’ll never know. And no, one play never is the only thing that decides a game.

But if the technology exists, at least check to get as many critical calls right as possible.