Jazz-Pelicans referees miss foul at buzzer; could have forced OT

NEW ORLEANS — A possible non-call that went against the home team in New Orleans. The officials reviewing a call after time expired. Those same officials being escorted out of the playing area showered by boos.

No, this wasn’t a Saints playoff game. This was the scene at Smoothie King Center at the end of the New Orleans Pelicans’ 128-126 loss to the Utah Jazz on Monday.

Just one day after the Saints’ season ended after officials determined there was no offensive pass interference on the final play of the game in overtime, Pelicans coaches, players and fans were also looking for a whistle on the game’s last play — one that could have sent the game into overtime.

With Utah up two, the Pelicans forced Bojan Bogdanovic into a missed 3-pointer, which led to a chance to tie the game or take the lead. Pelicans forward Brandon Ingram grabbed the rebound, and that’s where some of the wildness started.

As soon as the ball touched Ingram’s hands, three Pelicans signaled for a timeout: Pelicans coach Alvin Gentry and guard Lonzo Ball near half court and guard JJ Redick near where Ingram took in the rebound.

None of those three timeout signals was granted. Redick pulled his back as soon as Ingram took a dribble, and Gentry and Ball stopped once Ingram started gaining steam toward the basket.

Ingram drove directly at Utah center and two-time reigning Defensive Player of the Year Rudy Gobert, who was at the rim. Gobert leapt straight up, and Ingram tried to contort his body around Gobert’s to get the layup. Ingram’s arm wrapped around Gobert, but Gobert’s left arm made contact with Ingram’s right arm as he released the ball.

The referees signaled that the game was over after going to the review to see if there was time left on the clock after any possible clock malfunction. Once they determined that, because rules prohibit them from retroactively adding a foul in that situation, the game was finished.

Gentry said he wasn’t given an explanation on the court for why there wasn’t a foul call.

“All we did was exactly what we were supposed to do — took the ball, drove it hard at the basket — and then they determined it wasn’t a foul,” Gentry said. “End of game.”

Gentry added that the officials didn’t give any explanation for missing the timeout signals, and he can’t remember a late-game occurrence in which he wasn’t granted a timeout in that situation.

Ball said the coaching staff told players that if they got a stop, they were going to immediately call timeout, and that’s what he was doing. Once he saw Ingram going to the goal, he pulled back because “not many people can stop that.”

What did Ball think of the end of the game?

“It was a foul, nothing more, nothing less,” he said. “We should have got two free throws. We didn’t. Ball game.”

Ingram took the high road when asked about the contact at the end of the game.

“I don’t really think it matters what I saw,” Ingram said. “The referee seen something different.”

When asked if he was fouled, Ingram said, “I felt like I got hit, but the referee sees differently, so that’s the reality of it.”

There was a lengthy review at the end of the game, despite most of the Utah bench heading to the locker room, but it didn’t have to do with reviewing the foul itself.

Crew chief Kane Fitzgerald told the pool reporter after the game, “On the last play, we saw the drive to the basket by Ingram, and we felt during live play that Rudy played legal defense.”

The sting of the game was particularly harsh for the Pelicans, who saw a similar non-call situation play out three weeks ago.

On Dec. 17, the Pelicans should have had a chance to win a game in regulation against the Brooklyn Nets, after the Nets committed a shot-clock violation with 2.7 seconds remaining. However, officials at the time determined that the ball hit the rim, no violation was called, and the Pelicans missed a heave to try to win the game.

The game went into overtime, and the Nets came away with a 108-101 win.

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