NBA disagrees with LeBron over sixth foul

MIAMI — The NBA disagreed with LeBron James‘ assertion that his sixth foul was called incorrectly in the Cleveland Cavaliers126-125 overtime loss at Atlanta on Sunday night.

The league, in its “Last Two Minute Report” released Monday, upheld the referees’ decision, saying James pushed Paul Millsap in the back when the Hawks forward was airborne with 1:52 remaining in overtime, while also finding three officiating errors that went against Cleveland.

“I heard about it,” Cavs coach Tyronn Lue said before his team played the Miami Heat on Monday. “I don’t read that stuff, though. It’s too late now. It’s over. Can they give us the game back? Well there’s no need to talk about it, then. If they can’t give us the game back, it doesn’t matter.”

James did not acquiesce after fouling out for the sixth time in his 14-year career.

“It wasn’t a foul on my sixth foul,” James said after the game. “I knew I had five [fouls]. I knew the ball was going long. So I may have grazed Millsap a little bit, but I mean, throughout the course of a game [that happens]. I didn’t push him or anything like that.”

Additionally, the league confirmed that the five-second call against James when he was inbounding the ball with 18.7 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter, which James said was “pretty quick,” was the correct call. The league’s report also found four errors, including a non-call that would have benefited Atlanta.

The first mistake referenced came with 31.8 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter and the Cavs up 109-105 when Kent Bazemore made contact with Kyrie Irving‘s arm on a missed jump shot. The league deemed it was an incorrect non-call by the officials.

Then, with 5.9 seconds left in regulation and Cleveland leading 111-109, Bazemore and Millsap trapped Irving in the corner of the court and both Hawks defenders had their hand on the ball while Irving tried to protect it. The referee whistled for a jump ball, which the league determined was an incorrect call because both Millsap and Bazemore were standing out of bounds when they touched the ball, which should have awarded possession back to the Cavs.

On the ensuing jump ball between Bazemore and Irving, the Hawks retained possession, setting up Millsap’s buzzer-beating baseline jumper to force overtime. In OT, there were a pair of incorrect calls: one that would have helped the Hawks and one that would have helped the Cavs.

With 25.6 seconds left in the extra session and Cleveland trailing 121-120, Lue crossed midcourt to call timeout. He should have been assessed a technical foul for leaving the coach’s box, according to the league.

And with 11.6 seconds remaining in OT and Cleveland trailing 123-120, Irving scored a layup over Millsap but was called for an offensive foul. The league deemed that Millsap was moving laterally at the time of the contact and should have been called for a blocking foul, which would have put Irving at the free throw line with a chance to tie the game.

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