NBA world erupts over 'worst call in history' as Mavericks protest

The Dallas Mavericks are planning an NBA protest after their confusion cost them dearly against the Golden State Warriors.

Dallas Mavericks player Luka Doncic is pictured left, with the moment the Mavericks forgot to guard Golden State shown on the right.

The Dallas Mavericks plan to lodge a protest with the NBA over their loss to the Golden State Warriors on Thursday, following a baffling referee controversy. The Mavs went down to the Warriors 127-125, but were left seething after a miscommunication after a third-quarter timeout essentially handed the Warriors a free basket.

Trailing 88-87 with just under two minutes remaining in the third quarter, the Mavericks headed into a timeout believing the ball would be in their possession when play resumed. When it did, the Mavericks lined up for an offensive possession, only to see the Warriors similarly lined up by their own basket.

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Despite some clear confusion on the part of the Warriors, the ref blew the whistle and the ball was inbounded to Kevon Looney - who scored would could no doubt be the easiest two points of his basketball career. The Mavericks were left fuming, while their home fans looked on in disbelief.

Those two points proved to be decisive - with the home side down by just three in the final 10 seconds, before subsequent free throws for the Warriors extended the margin to five. A triple from Reggie Bullock in the final seconds cut the final margin to just two.

After the game, Mavericks team owner Mark Cuban took to Twitter to explain the baffling situation, which had prompted many fans to speculate the team had simply been confused as to which end they were playing on. It was confirmed shortly after the game that Dallas would lodge an official protest.

"For those wondering about the play with 1:54 to go on the 3rd, let me explain what happened. The ref called Mavs ball . The announcer announced it. Then there was a timeout," Cuban explained. "During the time out the official changed the call and never told us.

"Then when they saw us line up as if it were our ball, he just gave the ball to the warriors. Never said a word to us. They got an easy basketball. Crazy that it would matter in a two point game.

"Worst officiating non call mistake possibly in the history of the NBA. All they had to do was tell us and they didn't."

However NBA fans dug up the footage of the play before the timeout, which showed the referee clearly call the ball out of bound off Dallas, pointing to the Warriors basket, before then signalling that Dallas had called time out, pointing to the Mavericks' basket. Looney can be seen briefly turning back towards the referee after the timeout was called, exchanging words quickly before heading into the Warriors' huddle.

Reporters are given the opportunity to briefly ask questions of the lead official after each game. Soon after it emerged that Dallas planned to protest, the pool report quoted crew chief Sean Wright who said replays showed the initial out of bounds call kept the ball with the Warriors.

"Initially on the floor the original signal was in fact Golden State ball as this can be seen on video," he said. "There is a second signal but that signal is for a mandatory timeout that was due to the Mavs."

On social media, fans were amused by the Mavs' misfortune. A debate did emerge as to whether or not the referees had all been on the same page, with Cuban later suggesting one of the three referees had also believed it to be Dallas' ball.

Dallas left furious after NBA confusion proves costly

The win saw Golden State win consecutive games on the road for just the second time this season, with the reigning NBA champions boasting a remarkably poor record away from home. Both teams are jammed in the middle of a tight Western Conference race, with the Warriors holding the sixth seed and the Mavs in eighth.

After the game, Mavericks coach Jason Kidd said the entire team had been left confused. "It wasn't really explained, I think there's a lot of confusion," he said.

"A lot of people were out of position. When you look at it the court was split, we're on one side, the Warriors on another and you have a referee on the baseline...if there's confusion it's easy to just come in and blow the whistle and get us restarted."

Mark Cuban.
Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban says the team will lodge a protest over their loss to Golden State. (Photo by Tim Heitman/Getty Images)

Meanwhile, the Oklahoma City Thunder have scored a crucial road win over a Western Conference rival as the race for the NBA post-season enters the home stretch. The Thunder, led by Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Jalen Williams and Australian Josh Giddey, held on for a thrilling 101-100 victory against the Clippers in Los Angeles on Tuesday night.

Gilgeous-Alexander had a game-high 31 points, including OKC's final 10. Fellow guard Giddey tallied 13 points, six rebounds and six assists to steer the Thunder up to seventh in the standings with a 36-36 record.

Williams added 20 points and eight boards as Oklahoma City beat the Clippers (38-35) for the third time in as many matches this season. Kawhi Leonard top-scored for LA with 21 points but dribbled down the final seconds after being hounded by defenders and failed to fire his potential game-winning shot.

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