Knicks HC Tom Thibodeau sounds off on officials following loss to Heat

NBA: New York Knicks at San Antonio Spurs
Scott Wachter-USA TODAY Sports

New York Knicks head coach Tom Thibodeau typically refrains from publicly chastising the officials in his postgame press conferences. However, it was a different story after Tuesday night’s frustrating 109-99 loss to the Miami Heat.

Answering a question from the New York Post’s Stefan Bondy about Jalen Brunson’s rare off night, Thibodeau acknowledged that the point guard isn’t going to have good games every night, but that the officials need to be held accountable as well.

“It says 10 free throws, but he’s getting fouled. I hate to say it, it’s that simple,” said Thibodeau. “He’s getting fouled. He’s getting fouled. He’s getting fouled. He’s getting fouled. He’s getting fouled. He’s getting fouled.”

Brunson made no excuses for his shaky performance

Brunson finished the game with 20 points and 10 assists but shot just 5-18 from the floor and had a -9 plus-minus. Several times throughout the game, Brunson and the Knicks were hoping for calls from the refs to go their way, as the game was getting very chippy and physical in its later stages. The All-Star refused to drag down the officials when he spoke to the media after the game.

“We gotta adjust to how they’re calling the game. Simple as that,” said Brunson after the game via Five Reason Sports’ Alex Toledo.

Sunday’s loss to OKC might still be fresh in the Knicks’ minds

Some of Thibodeau’s frustration could stem from Sunday’s heartbreaking loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder. Brunson appeared to have absorbed a considerable amount of contact as he made what was at the time the go-ahead layup with roughly four seconds remaining. The shot put the Knicks up by one, but if a shooting foul had been called and Brunson made the free throw, they would’ve gone up by two, which is a huge difference in late-game situations.

The play was then followed by a game-winning turnaround jumper by OKC’s Shai Gilgeous-Alexander as they defeated the Knicks by one. Brunson was seen talking to the officials after the final buzzer sounded, likely about the no-call on his layup.

The Knicks need to remain focused on finishing the season strong

In the later stages of the season, especially in the middle of a playoff race, frustration tends to boil over and reach a tipping point. With three consecutive losses under the Knicks’ belt, it seems Thibodeau and his team are at that tipping point, as they wish for more consistent officiating from the refs.

The Knicks currently are tied with the Orlando Magic for fourth in the Eastern Conference but are now just two games ahead of the Miami Heat for the first play-in spot at seventh. New York has seven games remaining, three of them against teams with winning records.

If they want to avoid the play-in, they’re going to need to snap out of their skid and get back to their winning ways right now.

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