Refs admit missed foul on 76ers’ final drive

  • Tim Bontemps, ESPNMar 28, 2024, 12:38 AM ET

PHILADELPHIA — Following the LA Clippers’ 108-107 win over the Philadelphia 76ers on Wednesday night, crew chief Kevin Scott said in a pool report that there should have been a foul called on a drive by 76ers forward Kelly Oubre Jr. on the game’s final play.

“On the last play on the floor, in real time the crew interpreted that play as the defender jumping vertically,” Scott said. “However, in postgame video review we did observe some slight drift to his left by the defender [Paul] George, and a foul should have been ruled.”

The play capped a chaotic final minute of action, one that saw multiple reviews, a wedgie that resulted in a jump ball, two costly 76ers turnovers, a pair of and-1s by Clippers star Kawhi Leonard and, ultimately, Oubre’s drive that resulted in him lying on the ground as the Clippers celebrated a needed victory in James Harden’s first game in South Philly since being traded.

Nurse stormed onto the court to dispute the non-call and had to be restrained by his assistants. Oubre also jumped into the mix, pointing at each of the three officials — Scott, JB DeRosa and Brandon Adair — before being pulled away.

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“First and foremost, heat of the moment,” Oubre said when asked about his actions after the game. “This is an intense basketball game, of course. And we’re not perfect. The refs aren’t perfect. I want to apologize for just losing my cool, because that’s something I try to work on each and every day, and try to represent God in the best way I possibly can, and that wasn’t it. So I just ask for forgiveness.

“But I saw Coach Nurse getting riled up and if our coach is going to fight for us and he’s going there, then I’m right behind him. But at the end of the day, it wasn’t cool. So I’ll take whatever penalties come with that and you have to move on, but I got to be better in a sense.”

For his part, Nurse admitted the 76ers contributed to their own demise.

“Well, at 104-101, we had the ball sideline, [and] Tyrese [Maxey] breaks into the backcourt wide open, slips and falls, and they get an and-1 out of that,” Nurse said. “We come down and score, they’re full-court press and they knock one off of Kelly out of bounds.”

But Nurse also said some late calls should have gone the other way.

“I think [Oubre] took it in there pretty hard,” Nurse said. “I looked at it on our computers a couple times. I thought it was certainly contact, certainly as much of the last two or three that got called and-1s at the other end.

“I thought it was enough contact to call. [But] that’s the way it goes sometimes.”

For both teams, the end of the game took on a desperation befitting of their recent play. Philadelphia is now 13-26 this season when playing without the NBA’s reigning Most Valuable Player, Joel Embiid, who continues to inch closer to a return from the procedure he had on his left lateral meniscus seven weeks ago.

With the loss, the 76ers are now in eighth place in the Eastern Conference, having missed a chance to make up ground on the sixth-place Indiana Pacers, who lost to Chicago on Wednesday.

Sixers forward Kelly Oubre Jr. and coach Nick Nurse made their feelings known to the officiating crew following a chaotic finish to Wednesday’s game that saw a foul by Clippers forward Paul George on Philadelphia’s final play go uncalled.┬áBill Streicher/USA TODAY Sports

“I keep saying the same thing,” Maxey said. “I know every time we step on the floor trying to win, but if we’re able to get Big Fella back, we just need to be stepping in the right direction. I feel like whoever we play come playoff time or whatever the situation is, I feel like we have a great opportunity and a great chance with him on our team.

“So us, the other guys, we have to be stepping in the right direction, doing all the little things and going out there and playing extremely aggressive on defense and playing the right way, so when he does come back, we can proceed forward.”

The Clippers, meanwhile, were coming off a pair of losses at home to the 76ers and Pacers and beginning a four-game East Coast trip Wednesday, having fallen into a dogfight not just for their current fourth position in the West but also only a couple of games ahead of the play-in spots.

All of that overshadowed Harden’s first game back in Philadelphia since the trade, as the future Hall of Famer finished with 16 points and 14 assists in 39 minutes. He was booed during introductions and the first quarter, but as the game went on, his return faded into the background of what became a competitive game with a frenetic finish.

“I expected it,” Harden said of the reaction. “I don’t really know what it’s about, but I expected it.

“It is what it is. I don’t know why they were booing.”

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