OKLAHOMA CITY — A controversial non-call after Giannis Antetokounmpo stepped on the baseline before finishing a dunk with 1.1 seconds left gave the Milwaukee Bucks a 97-95 win over the Thunder, snapping OKC’s six-game win streak.
“I guess we’ll see something on the ticker that says referees missed that one,” Carmelo Anthony said. “We can’t do nothing about that at this point, so we might as well forget about it and move on and get ready for — who we play Sunday? Dallas? Get ready for Dallas.”
After a full-court heave from Russell Westbrook fell just short in hitting the net, Anthony and Steven Adams spent a few moments following the final buzzer talking with the officiating crew. Crew chief Derrick Stafford said after the game via a pool reporter that the play with Antetokounmpo was not reviewable.
“In any reviewable matter, there has to be a whistle called on the floor,” Stafford said. “There was no whistle blown for the play, so we couldn’t review it.”
With 4.7 seconds left in Friday’s contest, Westbrook had tied the game on a 3-pointer, giving him 40 points on 16 of 34 shooting. The Bucks called timeout and set up a play for Antetokounmpo, who spun baseline on Josh Huestis and finished a dunk over Westbrook.
“You can’t control reffing,” Huestis said. “At the end of the day, I’m a perfectionist. I put it on myself to maybe play a little better defense and stop him from spinning baseline, period; so that’s something I take seriously, and I think I need to work on not even letting him get there in the first place. Missed calls happen; it’s not something you can control.”
Antetokounmpo finished with 23 on 10-of-16 shooting, plus 12 rebounds and 6 assists as the Bucks swept a road back-to-back against the Timberwolves and Thunder.
“Simple,” Antetokounmpo said. “Came down to the last play, coach trusted me, having the ball late and making a play. I’m just trying to go and do what I do best. Drive the ball to the rim and try to make something happen.”
With Paul George sidelined with knee soreness, Westbrook, who also had 14 rebounds and nine assists, took charge in bringing the Thunder back from a 22-point deficit to tie the game in the final seconds. He got a piece of Antetokounmpo’s game-winning dunk, but couldn’t keep it out of the basket.
“I couldn’t see that,” Westbrook said of Antetokounmpo stepping out. “I was trying to stop it, but I have to think you’ve seen it, so it’s over now. It don’t matter.”
“They made a dunk, won the game,” he said.
Russell Westbrook recaps Oklahoma City’s tough loss to Milwaukee and talks about the controversial non-call to end the game.
This is the second game this season that’s ended controversially for the Thunder, with the league acknowledging an illegal screen seconds prior to Andrew Wiggins hitting a halfcourt shot to lift the Minnesota Timberwolves over OKC on Oct. 22.
After a scattered 8-12 start to the season, the Thunder entered Friday’s game 12-3 in December, but found out they’d be without George (knee soreness) shortly before their shootaround in the morning. In the Thunder’s win streak, the offense had been clicking better than at any point in the season, with their three stars finding a balance and clear acceptance of role.
Asked if George’s absence made it difficult to adjust offensively, Westbrook was brief.
“Obviously,” he said.
George expressed his puzzlement over the Antetokunmpo dunk.
Wow?! No travel OR out of bounds huh? 🤔
— Paul George (@Yg_Trece) December 30, 2017
A game last March between the Wizards and Trail Blazers ended in similar controversial fashion to Friday’s contest. The Trail Blazers pleaded to officials in that game that Markieff Morris stepped out of bounds before his go-ahead baseline jumper with 0.4 seconds left. The officials said there was nothing they could do.
As ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported, a recent meeting was held to address escalating tension between officials and the players union. Two of the three officials in Friday’s game — Leon Wood and Derrick Stafford — were on the Christmas Day crew in Oakland that missed two foul calls Kevin Durant committed on LeBron James. Wood was standing a couple feet from the play with Antetokounmpo.
“I look at thing totally differently,” Thunder coach Billy Donovan said of the replay controversy. “The league, and the officials, have to deal with that. That’s what they’re in control of; we’re not. I’m more concerned about the fact that we didn’t play well in the first quarter and there are some things we need to do better. Obviously, he stepped out of bounds, everybody knows that. I didn’t get a chance to personally see the replay, I was trying to ask for a review. They couldn’t review it, but that’s something the league has to deal with.”