clearn.png
Wednesday May 22nd, 2019 2:55AM

NBA looks for playoffs not marred by more player-ref strife

By The Associated Press
Related Articles
  Contact Editor

MIAMI (AP) — By rule, any substitute checking into an NBA game must first report his intentions to the scorer's table. Denver's Jamal Murray was on his way there during a game last month, then got derailed when an errant pass came flying his way.

That's when referee Jason Phillips intervened.

Phillips could have easily been a stickler for rules and told Murray — who never made it to the table — that he had to wait until the next stoppage of play. But Phillips knew Murray was on his way to checking in long before the play was dead and allowed him to enter the game.

"Thank you," Nuggets coach Michael Malone said, and Phillips nodded.

There were moments of civility like this between referees, players and coaches this season. They just were overshadowed way too often. Now everyone is watching to see how things unfold in the playoffs.

The league wants to avoid more headline-grabbing confrontation with the playoffs starting Saturday and stakes and emotion becoming even higher, so officials met with all 30 teams , the last of those on Monday.

"We all make mistakes," Toronto coach Dwane Casey said. "It's a game. We're all a part of it. We're all in the NBA. The officials are part of the NBA. So we have to understand that we're all under the same corporation."

There have been instances where they have looked more like combatants.

Referee Courtney Kirkland was taken off the floor for a week for getting too aggressive with Golden State's Shaun Livingston. Warriors star Kevin Durant — who'd been ejected once in his first nine seasons — got kicked out of five games. Even LeBron James got tossed for the first time in his 15-year career.

It all led the NBA to announce in late January its plan to improve how players and referees get along. Former referee Monty McCutchen, now an NBA vice president overseeing referee development and training, and NBA senior vice president Michelle Johnson met with clubs to listen to their perspective.

McCutchen's biggest hope is finding a way to make communication better, on all sides. He stressed to teams that he wasn't meeting with them solely to defend and protect officials.

"Our league needs strong officials," McCutchen said. "What we're trying to shoot for is this idea that you can have strength without arrogance and you can show humility without having to give into weakness. And that sort of Goldilocks moment, where the porridge is just right, is the balance in which we can start to disagree about the play without being demeaning or condescending or arrogant to one another."

That hasn't been the case at times this season.

It's rare that a call will truly decide a game, and the NBA is sticking to its pledge of transparency by continuing to release reports about calls made in the final two minutes of close games. The Last 2 Minute Reports have been widely panned by players and coaches, especially when those reports show that a big call didn't go their way in a close loss.

For the 400-plus games that have met the criteria for such a report being publicly issued this season, the NBA has said 97.4 percent of the calls made — in other words, 39 out of every 40 — are correct. When factoring in no-calls, what the NBA defines as "event accuracy" drops to 93.9 percent.

But there have also been some difficult moments.

Livingston and Kirkland butted heads in a game at Miami, earning the Warriors guard a one-game suspension and Kirkland's discipline after the league determined they were both in the wrong in their argument over a non-call. Through Sunday, there were 79 ejections this season — up considerably from the 61 last season. The NBA said 902 technicals were called last season; that figure has also been topped this season, albeit only by about 30.

Draymond Green, who isn't shy about getting technicals, has complained. So has Chris Paul, the president of the National Basketball Players Association.

"To be honest, we need to kind of just go out there and play, and not worry about anything but that," Toronto guard Kyle Lowry said. "We can't worry about what happened, even legitimately. We have to just go play and not say anything and just do our jobs. I think that'll be a focus for the rest of the season for our team."

But Lowry knows, starting Saturday, everything gets magnified.

"You can't get distracted or obsess on the officials or things that happen during the game that you can't necessarily control," Miami coach Erik Spoelstra said. "You can't cross the line consistently and expect to develop the right mental toughness that you need to win."

___

More AP basketball: https://apnews.com/tag/NBAbasketball

  • Associated Categories: Associated Press (AP), AP Sports, AP Online Basketball, AP Sports - NBA
© Copyright 2019 AccessWDUN.com
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
NBA looks for playoffs not marred by more player-ref strife
After a season where ejections were up and tensions were high, the NBA is hoping for calmer player-ref relations in the playoffs
2:50AM ( 3 minutes ago )
Not a rumor: Lindsey Buckingham, Fleetwood Mac part ways
Fleetwood Mac has told Lindsey Buckingham to go his own way. The band said in a statement Monday that Buckingham is out of the band for its upcoming tour.
2:48AM ( 5 minutes ago )
Venus, Serena Williams join Billie Jean King equal pay push
Venus and Serena Williams are adding their names and voices to the push for equal pay championed by the Billie Jean King Leadership Initiative
2:37AM ( 17 minutes ago )
Associated Press (AP)
Spurs, Pelicans, Thunder all in; 1 spot left in West race
There's only one spot left in the NBA playoffs, and it'll go to either Minnesota or Denver
1:38AM ( 1 hour ago )
Thunder clinch: Oklahoma City runs past Miami 115-93
The playoffs await Russell Westbrook and the Thunder after a 115-93 win over Miami
11:16PM ( 3 hours ago )
Olympians back California plan for disclosures on doctors
Olympians who were abused by former USA Gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar are supporting legislation that would make California the first state to require doctors to tell their patients if they are on probation
6:20PM ( 8 hours ago )
AP Sports
Utah clinches, Philly locks up home-court for first round
Playoff picture starts to focus: Jazz seal their spot, and 76ers clinch home-court for the first round
1:36PM ( 13 hours ago )
D'Antoni, Harden and Paul poised to capture trio's 1st title
Mike D'Antoni, Chris Paul and James Harden look to end years of playoff misery and lead Houston Rockets to first title since 1995
2:51AM ( 1 day ago )
Jazz clinch playoff spot in crowded Western Conference
Donovan Mitchell scored 28 points to help the Utah Jazz clinch a playoff berth with a 112-97 win over the Los Angeles Lakers
9:38PM ( 1 day ago )
AP Online Basketball
Top 2 seeds set in East and West; everything else TBD
With five days left in the NBA season, there are five playoff spots and 12 seeds still to be decided
1:03AM ( 3 days ago )
76ers hold off LeBron, Cavs 132-130 for 13th straight win
Ben Simmons topped LeBron James in a triple-double battle to lead the Philadelphia 76ers to their 13th straight win in their biggest game in six years, 132-130 over the Cleveland Cavaliers
11:00PM ( 3 days ago )
Lakers unveil statue of Elgin Baylor outside Staples Center
The Lakers unveiled a statue of Elgin Baylor before facing the Minnesota Timberwolves
10:36PM ( 3 days ago )
AP Sports - NBA
Not a rumor: Lindsey Buckingham, Fleetwood Mac part ways
Fleetwood Mac has told Lindsey Buckingham to go his own way. The band said in a statement Monday that Buckingham is out of the band for its upcoming tour.
2:48AM ( 5 minutes ago )
Venus, Serena Williams join Billie Jean King equal pay push
Venus and Serena Williams are adding their names and voices to the push for equal pay championed by the Billie Jean King Leadership Initiative
2:37AM ( 17 minutes ago )
Feds: Backpage.com made $500M from prostitution-related ads
The owners of the classified advertising site Backpage.com, are charged in a federal indictment with ignoring warnings to stop running advertisements promoting prostitution.
2:32AM ( 21 minutes ago )
National Guard members start arriving at US-Mexico border
Some National Guard members have started arriving at the U.S.-Mexico border with more expected as federal government officials continue to discuss what they'll do about illegal immigration
2:30AM ( 24 minutes ago )
LEADING OFF: Yankees-Red Sox ramp up, Ohtani could return
LEADING OFF: Yankees-Red Sox ramp up rivalry, Ohtani could return to lineup, Cubs try again to play home opener
2:11AM ( 42 minutes ago )