Last 2 Minutes report: Refs miss 3 crucial calls in Knicks’ loss to Wolves

It turns out the three costly non-calls aided the Minnesota Timberwolves’ escape win over the New York Knicks, 112-110, Tuesday night at the Madison Square Garden.

The NBA’s Last 2 Minutes report cited three crucial plays wherein the veteran crew of Ed Malloy, Brian Forte, and Bennie Adams (combined 52 years of officiating experience in the league) failed to blow their whistle, putting the Knicks at a disadvantage.

The first one happened in the final 1:46 when the Timberwolves ganged up on Evan Fournier, who lost the ball. The turnover led to Jaden McDaniels’ free throw split, which enabled Minnesota to cut New York’s deficit to one, 109-108.

“Towns (MIN) makes contact to the arm of Fournier (NYK) on the perimeter,” per the Last 2 Minutes report.

Then in the game’s pivotal play, Karl-Anthony Towns made a three-point play off a Julius Randle foul which gave the Timberwolves the lead, 111-109, with 29.3 seconds left. Towns committed an offensive foul on his way to the basket.

“Towns (MIN) reaches out and grabs Randle’s (NYK) arm and affects his ability to defend,” per the Last 2 Minutes report.

Despite the two missed non-calls, the Knicks still had a chance to win. After Randle’s charity split made it 111-110, RJ Barrett stole the in-bound pass. But he lost his balance and the ball with 24.2 seconds left. The Timberwolves took control of the possession leading to a Patrick Beverley’s split at the line for the final score. D’Angelo Russell appeared to have pushed Barrett but escaped with a non-call.

“After the deflection, Russell (MIN) extends his forearm into Barrett (NYK) and dislodges him from his position during the loose ball,” per the Last 2 Minutes report.

It was a heartbreaking loss that became doubly painful for the Knicks fans after the Last 2 Minutes report came out on Wednesday. But the Knicks could have avoided had they put the clamps on Timberwolves guard Jaylen Nowell, who torched them with 11 of his 14 points in the fourth quarter. It also didn’t help that the Knicks missed nine free throws.

“It was a hard-fought game. We didn’t get it done down the stretch,” New York coach Tom Thibodeau said after the tough loss. “Sometimes, you have to adjust to how the game is being called. We had some tough calls [that went] against us. And we can’t just put ourselves in a position like that where the referees [becomes] a factor.”

They have a chance to lick their wounds on Thursday when they host the lowly New Orleans Pelicans, who are 13th in the West and have lost their last two games.

Follow this writer on Twitter: @alderalmo

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