The Mavericks will file a protest of their 127-125 loss to the Warriors on Wednesday night in Dallas after confusion over which team had possession of the ball led to an uncontested dunk for Golden State late in the third quarter, team governor Mark Cuban told ESPN.
Coming out of a timeout, Warriors center Kevon Looney had a free dunk on an inbounds play with 1:56 left in the third quarter. The Mavericks, believing they had possession, were lined up on their offensive end of the court, which Cuban attributed to an officiating error.
Cuban tweeted his account of the incident Wednesday night, saying the referees had initially said it was Mavericks ball. A timeout was then called.
“During the time out the official changed the call and never told us,” Cuban wrote. “Then when they saw us line up as if it were our ball, he just gave the ball to the warriors. Never said a word to us They got an easy basketball. Crazy that it would matter in a 2 point game.”
Cuban went on to call it the “worst officiating non call mistake possibly in the history of the NBA.”
“All they had to do was tell us and they didn’t,” he wrote.
In a pool report afterward, crew chief Sean Wright disputed Cuban’s account, saying the referees originally signaled it was Golden State’s ball.
“There is a second signal, but that signal is for a mandatory timeout that was due to the Mavs,” Wright said.
Mavericks coach Jason Kidd contended that official Michael Smith must have thought it was Dallas’ ball because he was positioned on the same end of the floor as the Mavs coming out of the timeout.
“There was quite a few people out of position,” Kidd said. “It’s correctable, but you first have to admit there was a mistake.”
Dallas star Luka Doncic said he thought officials should have huddled when they saw the teams were on opposite ends of the court.
“I was surprised,” Doncic said about Looney’s uncontested dunk. “I was like, ‘What is that?’ I’ve never seen that happen in my life.”
Warriors coach Steve Kerr said it initially confused him when he saw the Mavericks lined up on the other end of the court, even though he was certain his team had possession of the ball.
“When they were down at the other end, I had to stop and think, ‘Is this right?'” Kerr said. “I thought it was pretty clear that it was our ball, and that’s why I was drawing up a play out of bounds on the baseline.”
According to the NBA constitution, Cuban must file his protest in writing within the next 48 hours. After commissioner Adam Silver receives the protest, the Warriors will be notified and each team will have five days to file evidence to support its case.
Silver will make a ruling within five days after receiving the evidence. Cuban’s protest must also be accompanied by a $10,000 fee, which will be refunded if the protest prevails.
The most recent protest in the NBA was also filed by the Mavericks, for their game against the Atlanta Hawks on Feb. 22, 2020. The Mavericks lost the protest.
The last successful protest in the NBA came in January 2008.
Wednesday’s loss dropped Dallas to 36-37, ninth in the Western Conference. The Mavericks would have moved ahead of the Warriors, who are now 38-36, into sixth place with a win.
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.