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NBA: Nikola Jokic shouldn’t have been called for foul that preceded Michael Malone’s late technical

Nikola Jokic

Denver Nuggets forward Nikola Jokic, of Serbia, argues with referees after being called for his fifth personal foul against the Atlanta Hawks in the second half of an NBA basketball game Friday, Dec. 23, 2016, in Denver. The Hawks won 109-108. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)


Surprise, surprise: The Hawks’ game-ending 9-0 run – all on free throws – in their 109-108 win over the Nuggets was aided by a wrong call. It’s just hard to have such a long streak to the line without the officiating getting too friendly.

However, the NBA’s Last Two Minute Report included two incorrectly called fouls – one by Denver and one by Atlanta.

Still, the missed calls disproportionately benefited the Hawks.

The first missed call in the report came with 1:43 left, when Malcolm Delaney was called for fouling Emmanuel Mudiay. Per the league:

Mudiay (DEN) trips, but not as a result of any contact by Delaney (ATL) that affects his SQBR.

Mudiay made both free throws – two extra points for the Nuggets.

The other incorrectly called foul was by Nikola Jokic on Thabo Sefolosha with 42.8 seconds left. NBA:

Jokic (DEN) and Sefolosha (ATL) engage on the rebound. The contact is incidental and does not affect either player’s ability to retrieve the rebound.

To compound matters, Nuggets coach Michael Malone picked up a technical foul protesting the – we now know, incorrect – call. Of course, the Hawks made all three resulting free throws – trumping Denver’s two extra points.

Plus, Jokic – the Nuggets’ best player – fouled out. That made it harder for them to protect their lead, which Atlanta overtook.