The Timberwolves and the San Antonio Spurs are playing, but it looks like the Spurs will win (update: did win). One has to wonder how much closer it could have been had it not been for a stretch where the officials seemed to let their emotions get away from them. Their were plenty of instances in this game in which the officials simply did not give the Wolves the same call that they gave the Spurs. (See Beasley's injury at the 3:30 mark in the second half, when Tim Duncan runs into Beasley's legs as he is shooting a 3-pointer)
Nothing was more telling than the 10 second stretch that almost tied the mark for most technical fouls called on a single team in an entire game. (Wikipedia: "The most technical fouls ever charged to a team in a single game is 6 (all in the second half), to Aris Thessaloniki in a game against Olympiakos of the Greek A1 League on February 10, 2008.")
In the third quarter, the Wolves had cut the Spurs' lead to six. On a San Antonio possession, Darko Milicic was called for a block that was awfully close. He reacted a bit, and the commentators mentioned that he needed to watch it. But no technical is assessed. The Spurs take the ball back out, and Corey Brewer got called on a real questionable reach-in. He reacted with some incredulity, and he was assessed a technical. And then, so is Darko Milicic (apparently, he pointed at an official). That's two technical fouls on the same team on a single play (with no violent play of any kind). Timberwolves Head Coach Kurt Rambis appeared to inquire about how the hell he has two players getting two technicals on a reach-in foul, and got T'ed up himself. At that point, Rambis lost it, and he's assessed a second technical and kicked out of the game. That's four technicals, on an absolute nothing play. Manu Ginobli stepped up and hit all four free throws, and the Spurs got the ball back.
On the ensuing possession, the Spurs put up a brick and it seems clear that Kevin Love was fouled by DeJuan Blair on the rebound attempt. When he didn't get the call, he reacted angrily, and he was T'ed up, too. Five technical fouls in under fifteen seconds that led to the Spurs doubling their lead without having to run a play. Without a punch thrown, without anyone really (until Rambis lost his shit) jawing a whole lot--five technicals-- all over what were, in fact, kind of shitty calls.
To be sure, David Stern has bigger fish to fry this year, but it might be worth a phone call to that officiating crew to say, "Umm, hey--you are kind of devaluing the technical foul when you call FIVE of them in under fifteen seconds of gameplay."
(Update: I didn't realize it at the time, but according to the AP, referee Ken Mauer called all five of the technicals.)
Well at least we know that there is NO POSSIBLE WAY a neutral referee would have any interest in helping out one team in particular. I mean, it's not like they've ever been caught gambling on the games.
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