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Fox, Brown lament another ref no-call on last play of a Kings loss

In Sports
April 13, 2024

Fox, Brown lament another ref no-call on last play of a Kings loss originally appeared on NBC Sports Bay Area

SACRAMENTO — De’Aaron Fox was adamant that Phoenix Suns guard Bradley Beal fouled him on the final play of Friday night’s game, and he made no attempt to hide his frustration over the referees’ no-call after his Kings’ costly 108-107 loss at Golden 1 Center.

“I got fouled,” Sacramento’s star guard said. “Wasn’t even close to the ball. You can go watch it. [Beal] very clearly got me, but whenever it’s me, they always say, ‘I didn’t see it,’ or, ‘Marginal contact.’ Doesn’t matter what the play was. If I got fouled, I got fouled. Trying to pick up the ball, he hits my whole arm, they get a steal.”

Television replays weren’t as clear. With 6.1 seconds left, Fox took the ball at the top of the arc after an inbounds pass, then started driving toward the hoop. Beal slid over from the key and, in an attempt to knock the ball loose, took a swipe at it. Devin Booker came over to double-team Fox, who lost control of the ball with 1.1 seconds left, allowing the Suns to run out the clock.

Kings coach Mike Brown’s frustration with the referees ran deeper than just the one call, though.

Seven seconds before Fox believed he was fouled, Sacramento big man Domantas Sabonis was called for a foul while trying to box out Jusuf Nurkic with the score tied at 107. Nurkic shanked the first free-throw attempt off the front of the rim before sinking the second, which proved to be the game-winner.

“From my seat, I’m baffled,” Brown said. “I’m not sure why we can’t get a call from an NBA official down the stretch. For them to call a box-out on Sabonis, a box-out foul when the game is as physical as it is, and give them two free-throw attempts to take the lead with seconds left in the game [was wrong]

“I hope I’m wrong, but from my seat, it looked like Fox got hit across the arm. I actually pray that I’m wrong because then I’ll sleep better at night.”

Brown said this wasn’t the first time during the 2023-24 season that he believed the referees missed calls in a critical game. Each time, the NBA’s Two Minute Report noted the officials’ mistake, as it did last week, when it revealed Colby Jones indeed was fouled on the final play of a one-point Kings loss in Boston.

By then, it’s obviously too late to matter. And it’s little solace when the result is a defeat on what the Kings believe was a blown call — or, in this case, a no-call.

“They probably look at the Kings on our jersey, I don’t know,” Brown replied when asked what he believed his team needed to do to have more calls fall their way. “I don’t know what it is. I’m assuming we have to do more in the league to get respect from the officials. It’s just tough to wait for the Two Minute Report and hear these things when it’s right in front of them.

“I just hope I’m wrong. To get another Two Minute Report that said they made a crucial mistake in a game of this magnitude … it’s just not fair.”

Even though replays were unclear, the truth is the pivotal game should never have come down to the controversial ending.

Sacramento controlled the action for most of the night before crumbling at the end. The Kings held a 103-96 lead with 4:50 remaining, then allowed the Suns to close it on a 12-4 run.

Instead of entering Sunday’s regular-season finale against the Portland Trail Blazers with a shot at the Western Conference’s No. 7 seed, then needing only one play-in tournament win in two games to move on, the Kings now face the very real possibility of being in the bottom half of the bracket, where it’s win or go home.

“We can’t sit here like the season’s over,” Fox said. “We’re locked into a play-in game. We still have a chance, and we have to figure this out.”

Still, it won’t be so easy to move on while the memory of the final play lingers. It will be even tougher if the Two Minute Report, which should be released Saturday around 1 p.m. PT, reveals that officials did indeed miss the foul on Fox.

“It’s just tough when you can’t get a call, but the other team keeps getting calls and the officials feel that they’re right,” Brown said. “Then the Two Minute Report comes out … and [the refs] go home and sleep at night. We’re up all night fretting over the game because we’re fighting for our playoff lives.

“It’s tough to see it from my seat. I hope the officials were right on the no-call. Just a tough way to lose basketball games when stuff is as obvious as it is.”

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