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NBA report backs referees, says Jimmy Butler was fouled on late plays

Michael Holley and Michael Smith reflect on LeBron James' journey off the court, what he has meant for the city of Akron, and his off the court legacy is untouchable.

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — The NBA said Saturday that two calls that sent Jimmy Butler to the line in the final minute of Game 5 of the NBA Finals held up in the league’s customary review of close games.

The calls the Lakers’ took issue with came with 46.7 seconds left and 16.8 seconds remaining, the first one charged to Markieff Morris and the other charged to Anthony Davis. Butler made all four free throws on those plays, and the Heat won 111-108 to extend the series to Game 6 on Sunday.

“I felt two bad calls at the end put Butler to the line, you know, and that’s unfortunate in a game of this magnitude,” Lakers coach Frank Vogel said after the game. “Anthony Davis has a perfect verticality, should be a play on. And the time before that, Markieff Morris has his hands on the ball, that should be a play on.”

The league, however, disagreed in Saturday’s Last 2 Minute Report — the customary review of all calls made (and calls not made) in the final two minutes of close games. It said Morris hit Butler’s left arm on a play where the Heat star drove the lane and, after his shot missed, slumped over a video board several feet behind the baseline for a few seconds to catch his breath.

On the second play, the league said Davis jumped into Butler and initiated contact.

“A couple, you know, questionable calls that swayed their way and put Jimmy to the free-throw line,” Lakers forward LeBron James said. “Obviously, we can’t do that.”

There were two calls that the Lakers should have gotten, the league said, though they cost L.A. one point at the most. James, the league said, was fouled by Butler with 1:01 left and should have gotten two free throws -- but on the same play, James grabbed the offensive rebound of his own miss and scored, so the Lakers got the two points anyway.

The other missed call that disadvantaged the Lakers was what should have been a defensive 3-second violation against Miami’s Andre Iguodala with about 28 seconds left. The Lakers wound up scoring on that play as well, with Davis grabbing an offensive rebound and laying it in for a 108-107 lead.