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LeBron James on referee's decision to not give the Cavs a timeout

LeBron James

LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers underwent one of their lowest moments of the season tonight, as they threw away a 26-point lead to start the fourth quarter and allowed the Atlanta Hawks to roar back and eventually take the victory in overtime in one of the strangest games of the campaign.

It was a meltdown from the Cavs, who let the Hawks score 44 points alone in the final period as they took their foot off the gas. It may have been an ugly night, but the end of the contest was riddled with controversy as NBA officials were at the heart of some game-changing decisions.

As the Cavs were clinging onto a two point lead with only seconds remaining, the Hawks turned to the foul game to keep their hopes alive. James swiftly inbounded the ball to Kyrie Irving under the Hawks’ basket, who was quickly trapped in the corner by Kent Bazemore and Paul Millsap. At this point, if Irving was fouled, he has the opportunity to make it a two possession game with the Hawks out of timeouts, basically, the game would have been over.

Unfortunately for him and the Cavs, the referees called a jump ball between Irving and Millsap despite ongoing pleas for a timeout by James and company. Upon reflection, even the jump ball decision was incorrect, as both Hawks players were out of bounds when trying to wrap the ball up Irving.

It ended as a decision that led to a Millsap basket sending the game to overtime and the eventual demise of the world champions.

The Cavs were perplexed about the decision by the referees down the stretch and overtime, and team captain James, who was wrongly fouled out by an official during overtime, questioned the reason why the Cavs weren’t granted a timeout when he pleaded, and the officials’ response was something he’s never heard in his 14 seasons within the association.

Via Joe Vardon of Cleveland.com:

“He told me that I’m not allowed to call timeout because he didn’t know who had possession of the ball,” James said, relaying what Richardson said to him. “And I was the one who entered the ball to Kyrie. And as soon as I seen Millsap go trap Kyrie in the short corner, I looked at him and called timeout twice — at least twice — and he wasn’t even paying me no attention. And that’s when the jump ball happened. I said, ‘Why?’ He said, ‘I can’t call timeout because I don’t know who has possession of the ball. I don’t know what’s going on. I don’t know the tie up.’ I said, ‘That doesn’t make any sense because we have the ball. I entered the ball to Kyrie so you shouldn’t even be worried about the tie up or not, I’m calling it as soon as I saw Kyrie is getting tied up in the corner.’

“So, I’ve never heard that one before. I’ve never heard that explanation before in my life.”

It’s a call that left the Cavs frustrated, and made it an even more difficult task of obtaining the number one seed in the Eastern Conference.

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