The Raptors and Thunder played one of the best games of the season on Sunday. It was a true back-and-forth battle the entire way that featured an incredible performance from Russell Westbrook, Kyle Lowry, and DeMar DeRozan. However, at the end of the game, nobody was talking about this clutch basket Westbrook hit to snap the Raptors 11-game win streak.
Instead, the conversation was about the officiating. After Westbrook made a basket to put the Thunder up four, Toronto brought the ball up and turned it over. From this point on was pure chaos.
DeRozan, still fuming from what he believed to be a missed call from earlier, started to give the ref an earful. He was ejected from the game. Moments later, Serge Ibaka gave the refs an earful, so the refs gave him an early exit to the showers. That should have been where it ended, but the refs heard too much fussing from Dwane Casey and decided to send him on his way as well. The play-by-play write up is almost too crazy to believe.
The refs clearly lost control of the game at this point, but the real example of how much control they lost came with Casey's ejection because it might have come from a phantom heckle. There's a strong possibility the words that got Casey ejected came from a fan and not from Casey. Kyle Lowry, who had already been disqualified at this point for having too many fouls, couldn't help but laugh at the insanity of it all.
The game ended with chants from the fans directed at the refs raining down upon the arena. The referees were escorted off the court by police.
It's always a shame when a great game gets overshadowed by a moment like this, but that's what happened on Sunday. Nobody could think about Lowry's 22 points or C.J.Miles' incredible dunk earlier in the quarter. It was all about the three ejections that took place before the Thunder could even finish their free throws.
After the game, Casey told reporters he wanted fairness from officials and that the Raptors would complain the proper way, which probably insinuates a call to the league office.
Casey says they're looking for fairness from officials, but declined to say much more. "We'll complain in the proper way."— (((Eric Koreen))) (@ekoreen) March 18, 2018
This incident is not going to help ease tensions between players, coaches, and refs. Pistons coach Stan Van Gundy and Pelicans coach Alvin Gentry both for different reasons . There's always a tension there between refs and teams, but this season it definitely feels like it's in a spotlight.