Just 15 seconds from the finish, Damian Lillard shot the gap.
With a high pick-and-roll on the way, Lillard burst between his screener and his defender, leaving Rudy Gobert trailing and only Royce O’Neale between the Blazers and a tie.
And then came Gobert, who blocked the shot against the backboard — after it had already kissed the glass. No call, no comeback.
Lillard, enraged over the lack of a foul or goaltending call by the officials, needed to be restrained as he exited the court.
”We get to the last play of the game and they miss a easy call,” Lillard said. ”Then they tell us it’s a easy no call, like that’s obviously not a goaltend. It cost us the (expletive) game, man.”
NBA referee Josh Tiven confirmed to a pool reporter after the game that video review showed that a goaltending violation should have been called originally, but it was not a reviewable play because the crew did not call it on the floor.
That was little consolation for the Trail Blazers. Instead of tying the game, and potentially forcing overtime, Portland came away with a costly defeat amid a push to get back into the playoff picture.
”It cost us the game. We can’t get it back,” C.J. McCollum said. ”When we make mistakes, we’re fined. And they cost us a game that could cost people money, so, they should be fined accordingly, because that’s terrible. Not just bad, terrible.”
Gobert said he was trying to make a play on the ball and felt like the no-call overshadowed a memorable Utah comeback from a 14-point halftime deficit.
”Obviously it’s a big play because it’s the last play and it’s what everyone is going to remember,” Gobert said. ”But I think we did a great job playing in the second half. Mistakes are made. Officials are human. I feel like it’s all part of the game.”
The Blazers currently sit ninth, 2.5 games back of Memphis for the final playoff spot. Lillard’s 42 points (16-30 FGs) and six assists had gone for naught.
“It was a bad no-call. That’s what I can say,” said teammate Carmelo Anthony. “It’s frustrating because we can’t get that back. I guess we’re just supposed to take this L and head on back to Portland.”
Information from the Associated Press contributed to this report.