Cleveland Cavaliers head coach JB Bickerstaff shared his thoughts on a late-game call during a 120-118 victory by the Atlanta Hawks on Wednesday.
“They called a foul that wasn’t a foul,” JB Bickerstaff said in a postgame press conference, via Cleveland.com Cavs reporter Chris Fedor. “The defensive player should be covered and have a spot to land just like the offensive player. When you kick your feet forward, that’s not a natural drift in a shot.
“That’s a huge play. There was a play where they made a 3 where the guy stepped out of bounds. They didn’t call that. Our defense was good enough. It’s tough to overcome those types of mistakes.”
The Cavaliers were up by one point with 2:14 remaining when Hawks guard Dejounte Murray took a 3-point shot from the left wing. With Cavs guard Darius Garland almost behind Murray, forward Evan Mobley moved to contest the shot from near the arc. Murray drew contact from Mobley as he was landing after the shot.
“Cleveland’s bench screamed at the nearby referee and signaled about an unnatural kickout — the kind the league has been trying to crack down on in recent years,” continued Fedor.
An unsuccessful challenge from Bickerstaff resulted in three free throws from Murray, who made every one of them to put the Hawks up by two.
Cleveland has seen mixed results from the refs in late-game situations as the season went on. The NBA’s two-minute reports have either shown the Cavs escape with a lucky n0-call or fall after officiating oversights. Two crucial mistakes cost Cleveland a win against the Los Angeles Clippers in November, stopping a potential nine-game win streak towards the season’s beginning.
The Cavs will tip off against the New York Knicks at 7:30 p.m. EDT on Friday in Rocket Mortgage Fieldhouse. The game will be broadcasted on Bally Sports Ohio.