- The Washington Times
Thursday, January 20, 2022

Wednesday’s game between the Washington Wizards and the Brooklyn Nets was thrilling. But there was also a moment of controversy over a missed call in the fourth quarter.

With 5:45 left, Wizards guard Spencer Dinwiddie passed the ball toward forward Kyle Kuzma — but Nets assistant David Vanterpool reached out from the bench area and deflected it. The referees missed the deflection, and the pass attempt was instead ruled a turnover — a particularly costly turnover in a game that the Wizards lost by one point, 119-118.

“My reaction was utter disbelief,” Wizards acting coach Joseph Blair said. “I’ve never seen, in my very long time in basketball, something happen like that that the referees didn’t see. No one’s perfect and mistakes will be made, and I get that, but I think in a game like this with the bench conduct being a point of emphasis this year, it’s very hard to swallow them missing something like that for me. I do understand that regardless, there’s tons of things we could’ve done better in the game and it never should’ve come down to us complaining about something like that.

“But I will say that this is the best league in the world. Gotta be better than that,” Blair said.

On Thursday, the NBA fined Vanterpool $10,000 and penalized the Nets $25,000.

After the play happened, Kuzma ran down the floor and fouled Nets guard Patty Mills out of frustration, admitting he did so to yell at the officials more over the missed call.

“That was also horses—t, too,” Kuzma said of Vanterpool‘s interference. “Coaches should not be able to stand up. I get it if it’s under two minutes … but I don’t know what else to say. It’s very unfortunate.

“AAU basketball is what it looked like,” he added later. 

Despite the no-call, the Wizards did have a chance to win, but missed two good looks in the final seconds. Kuzma‘s open 3-pointer clanked off the rim, while Dinwiddie missed a last-second heave.

Referee Ben Taylor told a pool reporter afterward that the officials’ crew did not see Vanterpool‘s deflection.

“There wasn’t a mechanism in place [to review it],” Taylor said.

• Matthew Paras can be reached at mparas@washingtontimes.com.

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