Yes, what Antoine Wright did to Carmelo Anthony was a foul, but you play the game the way the referees call it. In that light I have three recommendations for the Mavericks next time they find themselves in that situation.
1. Tell the officials you want to foul before the shot goes up. It is not against the rules to communicate your strategy to do to the officials. For years players and coaches have informed refs that they want to call a timeout as soon as they grab a rebound. If the officials know what you want to do they will be anticipating that you are going to do it and that makes it much more likely that they will make the call you are looking for. Plus, I have no idea if the on court referees keep track of who has a foul to give or not. In fact, the scorer’s table passes that information on to them specifically so they do not have to keep track of that kind of thing.
2. If you are going to foul, foul. Do not make a weak slap at the ball/arm. Wrap the offensive player up. Grab him, hold him like you are at the prom. Leave the referees no choice, but to call the foul.
3. After the contact do not put your hands up in the air and act like you did not foul. Making the French national gesture with you arms up in surrender communicates that you did not intend to foul and do not want to be called for a foul. Players have been making that gesture hoping to avoid a whistle since God created referees.
If there is something to be said for the officials I think it is clear that the game was officiated the way the Mavericks need it to be officiated in order to have a chance to beat the Nuggets. The Nuggets physical play was penalized all night long, which is fine and I think the officials were pretty consistent all night long. The result was the game turned into a dreadful non-stop parade to the foul line. Now, please note, I did not say the referees screwed the Nuggets nor did I say the Mavericks got all the calls. Denver shot plenty of free throws too. If Dallas wants to complain about the refs, and judging by the reaction of Mark Cuban following the game they do, tonight was not the night to do it.
Update: Official statement from the NBA:
“At the end of the Dallas-Denver game this evening, the officials missed an intentional foul committed by Antoine Wright on Carmelo Anthony, just prior to Anthony’s three-point basket.”
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