Lakers-Suns game marred by controversial timeout call in final seconds
The Los Angeles Lakers-Phoenix Suns matchup ended in controversy Tuesday in the quarterfinal round of the NBA In-Season Tournament.
The Lakers advanced to the In-Season Tournament semifinals after beating the Suns 106-103 at Crypto.com Arena in Los Angeles, Calif.
The home team was seemingly helped by a rather generous timeout call granted to them in the closing seconds.
The ball was DEFINITELY loose. I don't see how the referees grant a timeout here. pic.twitter.com/ZlaxGXpCx6
— Kevin O'Connor (@KevinOConnorNBA) December 6, 2023
The Lakers led the Suns 105-101 with under 20 seconds left in the contest. Suns forward Kevin Durant converted on a reverse layup with 11.2 seconds to cut the Lakers’ lead in half.
LeBron James inbounded to Austin Reaves following Durant’s make. The Suns pressured Reaves in the backcourt and forced him to lose the ball near the Lakers’ basket. But before the Suns could gather the loose ball and tie the game, the Lakers were awarded a timeout.
James was able to get referee Tom Washington’s attention and called timeout as Reaves was losing possession. However, watching the play unfold on replay all but confirms that the Lakers guard no longer had possession when James turned to call the timeout.
Suns fans should be livid. In order for a time out to be called,the Lakers needed to have possession of the ball. It is clearly not controlled by Reaves as the ball is already free by the time LeBron is turning to the ref with the time out signal. This would’ve tied the game pic.twitter.com/tF6Jb9MQVT
— BBALLBREAKDOWN (@bballbreakdown) December 6, 2023
Timeouts cannot be granted if a team does not have possession of the ball.
Instead, the Lakers got the ball and the Suns had to foul them to stop the clock. Anthony Davis split his free throws after that to put the Lakers up 106-103.
The referees tried — and failed — to appease Suns coach Frank Vogel with their explanation for the call.
"Not a good one."
Upset Frank Vogel when asked what explanation he got on #Lakers granted timeout when it appeared they turned the ball over before.
— Duane Rankin (@DuaneRankin) December 6, 2023
Durant missed the potential game-tying three-pointer that would have sent the game to overtime.
The Lakers advanced to the NBA In-Season Tournament semifinals in Las Vegas. They will take on the New Orleans Pelicans with a spot in the finals on the line.