Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

NBA fails to explain why Marcus Morris was called for offensive foul on Kevin Love for doing nothing

Alex Reimer
May 22, 2018 - 10:34 am

The referees couldn’t take the whistles out of their mouths during the Cavaliers’ 111-102 victory over the Celtics Monday in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Finals. One play in particular personified their exuberance to stop play whenever possible.

In the third quarter, Kevin Love leaped in front of Marcus Morris while he was attempting a three-pointer. The basket was waved off, because Morris was curiously called for a foul on the play. 

Under NBA rules, an offensive player can’t kick out his leg into a legal defender. But that’s not what Morris did. He was simply finishing his shot, and Love fell down in front of him. After the game, NBA senior vice president of officiating, Joe Borgia, did an atrocious job trying to explain the foul.

“Kevin, when he goes up, jumps clearly in front of Morris,” Borgia said on NBA TV. “He’s not going to make any contact with him. But what you’re going to see is Morris extend his right leg out to try to draw a defensive foul. But since Love was going to completely miss him, an offensive foul needs to be called on this play, because Love is affected by the contact. Normally when you see the offensive player kick their leg out, the defender just plays through it. It doesn't affect their speed, balance or rhythm. But since Love got knocked over, that makes the contact more than marginal. That’s why the offensive foul was assessed on this play.”

Umm, what? So Morris and Love didn’t make contact, but since Love appeared to be affected by this nonexistent contact, a foul needed to be called on the play. Makes perfect sense. 

Then again, the dubious officiating Monday shouldn’t have been a surprise. The series-extender himself, Scott Foster, was on the call. In case you forgot, disgraced referee Tim Donaghy, who was sentenced to prison for betting on games he officiated, placed 134 calls to Foster during the six-month period he confessed to either betting on games or passing along information to gamblers.

So far this postseason, home teams are 7-2 in games officiated by Foster. He was one of the referees for the Sixers’ Game 4 win over the Celtics last round, which featured several dubious calls

The other two referees Monday, Bill Kennedy and Eric Lewis, have seen home teams win in 12 of their 13 assignments during the playoffs. 

Comments ()