â€œThey said we didnâ€™t challenge. Two officials. Tough calls. Thatâ€™s all Iâ€™m going to say about it,â€ Thibodeau said.
Did he have a valid argument?
Crew chief Courtney Kirkland insisted he did not challenge the call right away. Kirkland explained the turn of events in the pool report.
“The foul call was a loose ball foul called against Julius Randle. That was the foul call. Coach Thibodeau did not signal for a challenge during the same interaction with the officials. In order to initiate a challenge, the coach must signal for a challenge during the same interaction, and he did not do so,” Kirkland explained to pool reporter Steve Popper of the Newsday.
Hereâ€™s the pool report on the costly call on Julius Randle. pic.twitter.com/1WNZqyXf2M
â€” alder almo (@alderalmo) March 22, 2021
The television replays showed Randle giving Tobias Harris a slight push as the Philadelphia gunner rushed to battle Nerlens Noel for the rebound with 5.3 seconds left in overtime.
Harris got two free throws with Thibodeau’s clamor for a challenge falling on deaf ears even after storming the court to plead his case with the officials.
As it turned out, it was a costly call for the Knicks.
Harris calmly sank the two free throws that served as the tight game’s biggest margin.
The 76ers completed a season sweep of the Knicks and extended their winning streak in their head-to-head matches to 15.
It was the Knicks’ second time to be embroiled in late-game call controversy this season. Ironically, Randle was also at the receiving end of a crucial call— a traveling violation— in their 117-112 loss to the Brooklyn Nets last week.
Randle avoided being penalized as his teammates and William Wesley, the Knicks executive vice president and senior advisor, were able to restrain him from going after the officials.
But this time, things could turn worse for Randle as his emotions got the better of him. The Knicksâ€™ All-Star publicly criticized the officiating after Sunday night’s loss to the 76ers.
â€œBlown call by the officials. Not enough contact for them to call the play. Nerlens (Noel), clearly he had possession. After all the fouling and everything that was going on for them to call that and decide the game is fâ€”ing ridiculous. Itâ€™s ridiculous! Theyâ€™ve got to do a better job. There are too many games like this,â€ Randle said in an explosive postgame interview.
An NBA fine could be waiting for Randle.
Follow this writer on Twitter: @alderalmo