I know it was Manu Ginobili, one of the top two or three most despised players for Nuggets fans. I know it was the Spurs, one of the two or three most hated franchises by Nuggets fans. I know it would have been another game winner by Carmelo Anthony, but that was a charge. Ginobili was outside the charge circle, he was on the spot before Melo gathered and Anthony dislodged Manu and knocked him to the ground. Ginobili is notorious for his flopping and he sure did not try to remain upright, but who would not make sure they hit the floor hard on a play like that?
The interesting question in my mind is was there any disagreement amongst the officials on the call. The crew was comprised of a relatively younger former player, 45 year-old Haywoode Workman, a slightly order veteran referee Rodney Mott, 53, and old timer Dick Bavetta who was in the crowd the day Jesus fed the 5,000. Bavetta was on the baseline to the left of the basket with Workman and Mott on each side. Workman was on the right side of the court at the free throw line extended and Mott was on the left side at the coach’s box. Mott dropped down to the free throw line extended to match Workman’s position on the opposite side of the floor by the time the play was made.
As soon as Melo made contact with Ginobili both Mott and Workman made charge calls. However, the veteran Bavetta never budged an inch. Bavetta almost appeared to be a batter on a 3-0 count who just keeps the bat on his shoulder. There was no way he was going to blow his whistle on that play regardless of what happened. I found the contrast interesting with the two “younger” referees including a former player in Workman, were more worried about getting the call right, while Bavetta appeared determined to allow the players to decide the outcome. We saw a direct contrast in the attitude of the old guard in Bavetta and his two crewmates who have come into the league in the “get every call right” era.
The key was there was no disagreement between Mott and Workman. What they would have done if one had called a charge and the other a block would have been interesting to see or if one was the only one to call a charge? Regardless, it was the right call and the two referees who blew their whistles saw the same thing although it appears Workman’s view of the play may have been at least partially obstructed by J.R. Smith. Even so, he did not hesitate to make the call.
For the Nuggets it was a horrific way to end the game. Is it unbelievably rare to see a game end like that? Certainly it was. Does that make it the wrong call? Absolutely not. This is not the first game that has ever hinged on a late call at the end of a game by an official. Maybe Nuggets fans remember this late game play where the officials determined the outcome?
If the Nuggets want to see why they lost, they need to look in the mirror. Nene missed two layups and an alley oop dunk over the final seven minutes. In the last three minutes Denver was 2-5 from the free throw line. Arron Afflalo missed a wide open three from the corner with under a minute left. The Nuggets were not in position to foul Tim Duncan when he had the ball when the Spurs were up one and less than 20 seconds were on the clock. Denver made the plays they needed to in order to stay in the game, but the Spurs, on the road on the second night of a back to back, made the plays they needed to win the game.
As far as the other subplot that is always following Denver, if anyone thinks Melo has quit on this team, just look at his play in the fourth quarter and his reaction when he was called for the game deciding charge. He may want to play for the Knicks sooner rather than later, but he wanted to win that game badly and he did his best to try to ensure that.
In case you missed it J.R. Smith had his submission for dunk of the year at the end of the first quarter as he sailed over Gary Neal with a full head of steam.
Sorry for the swaying, I recorded it by hand to save time.
Advanced Game Stats
Pace Factor: 96.7 – The Spurs kept it a few possessions slower than a typical home game for the Nuggets
Defensive Efficiency: 116.9 – Not very good, the Spurs were able to get into the lane too often to the tune of 52 points in the paint
Offensive Efficiency: 115.8 – Pretty good against the Spurs who are one of six teams who give up less than a point per possession, still making one or two of those missed layups or free throws would have been a big help