Fox Sports 1 host Skip Bayless thinks that the Phoenix Suns were fleeced against the Los Angeles Lakers during NBA In-Season Tournament play on Tuesday night, and Suns center Jusuf Nurkic agreed with him, albeit begrudgingly.
Never thought this mf will be right lol https://t.co/Q8ERRi0nzb
— Jusuf Nurkić 🇧🇦 (@bosnianbeast27) December 6, 2023
The controversy occurred with just over 10 seconds to go in the contest when Suns forward Kevin Durant converted a layup to cut the Lakers’ lead to two. After the basket, Lakers forward LeBron James inbounded the ball to Austin Reaves. The Suns swarmed Reaves and ultimately caused him to lose the ball.
The ball was DEFINITELY loose. I don't see how the referees grant a timeout here. pic.twitter.com/ZlaxGXpCx6
— Kevin O'Connor (@KevinOConnorNBA) December 6, 2023
At the same time, James called for a timeout that was granted by the officials. The problem is that the ball appeared to already be out of Reaves’ control at the time James was awarded the timeout. If the ball was loose, a timeout shouldn’t have been granted.
Ultimately, the timeout was upheld and the Lakers kept possession of the ball. Anthony Davis was fouled after the ball was inbounded on the following play, and he converted one out of two free-throw attempts. Durant then missed a 3-point attempt at the buzzer, and the Lakers pulled out a 106-103 victory.
After the game, the Suns were understandably frustrated by the situation.
“It’s a loose ball, and you can’t call a timeout on a loose ball,” Suns coach Frank Vogel said. “The whistle blows. I don’t know why. Everything in the league is reviewable. I don’t know why that can’t be reviewable. … We got the trap, we got the turnover, [and the] damn whistle blows. It’s just frustrating.”
Despite the frustration, Durant wasn’t ready to blame the outcome of the entire game on a single play.
“That’s not the ballgame,” Durant said. “That’s one play. It’s a 48-minute game. I don’t like to complain about calls. Sometimes the ref ain’t going to get it right all the time. Sometimes it’s on us to play through all that stuff and not worry about putting the game in the ref’s hands.”
With the loss, the Suns were eliminated from the In-Season Tournament. Meanwhile, the Lakers advanced to the semifinals. They have gone a perfect 5-0 in tournament play so far.
L.A. will now face off against the New Orleans Pelicans in Las Vegas on Thursday night for a chance to move on to the championship game, which will take place on Saturday night. The winner of the contest between the Lakers and Pelicans will square off against the victor of the other semifinal game between the Milwaukee Bucks and Indiana Pacers.
Once the tournament is over, the Lakers will return to their regular season schedule next week. They will travel to Texas for a game against Luka Doncic and the Dallas Mavericks on Tuesday night, and then they will play two straight games against the San Antonio Spurs at Frost Bank Center.