Officials confirmed that the Lakers indeed had possession of the ball when LeBron James called a late-game timeout, a pivotal play in a 106-103 win over the Phoenix Suns on Tuesday in the NBA’s inaugural in-season tournament quarterfinal game.
Leading by two points with less than 10 seconds left, Austin Reaves took the inbounds pass. Reaves dribbled between Devin Booker and Kevin Durant, with Durant poking the ball free, seemingly setting up a crucial turnover.
On the other side of the court, though, James signaled to an official for a timeout and it was granted, keeping the Lakers in possession of the ball.
“During live play the official felt that L.A. still had possession of the ball when LeBron James requested the timeout,” crew chief Josh Tiven said after the game. “Through postgame video review in slow motion replay, we did see that Austin Reaves had his left hand on the ball while it’s pinned against his left leg, which does constitute control.”
After the game ended, Booker went up to officials to continue to complain about the call, repeatedly pointing to the spot on the court where he thought the Suns got a steal.
“The whole world seen it,” Booker said postgame. “… It is what it is. Refs miss calls sometimes. But when they’re that obvious, it’s tough.”
“Everything in the league is reviewable,” Suns coach Frank Vogel said. “I don’t know why that can’t be reviewable. … Extremely disappointed.”
Reaves said after the game that he thought Booker, who had five fouls, ran into him to begin the play.
“I don’t know if they were trying to foul or what but there was no call. And obviously Bron made a high IQ play as he’s probably done a million times in his career. And called timeout,” Reaves said. “… I don’t really know if it was a foul or not, but we got a timeout.”
The win advanced the Lakers to Thursday’s semifinals against the New Orleans Pelicans. Players on the championship winning team will each receive a $500,000 prize.
“I felt Book kind of pushed up on him a little bit, made AR stumble,” James said. “And as soon as I saw AR start to stumble a little bit, I started to make the notion and the voice to the referee that was closest to me for timeout. After that, I mean, I heard them, the commotion. The ball was loose, or whatever the case may be. But my direction was right towards the referee to get us a timeout, for sure.”