Add the officiating at the end of the Toronto Raptors-Denver Nuggets game Monday night into the binder of criticism referees have faced this season. With the Raptors down by one point with 30 seconds left, Toronto forward Scottie Barnes was inexplicably ejected on one technical foul by head official Scott Foster. Raptors head coach Nick Nurse was irate, Barnes was utterly confused, but Foster was adamant that the second-year forward needed to head back to the locker room for the remainder of the game.
The ejection came after Jakob Poeltl was called for a foul on Aaron Gordon. As Foster was walking to the scorers table to signal who the foul was on, he quickly turned around and hit Barnes with a technical and an ejection.
Here's how it went down:
In the pool report following the game, Foster said he ejected Barnes because "he used verbiage that which directly questioned the integrity of the crew."
In the video you can see Barnes said something, but after the game the Raptors forward said he was talking to himself, not the referees.
When asked about the foul call that led to Barnes' ejection, Nurse said "there was nothing there." Nurse followed that up to say a good game was "unfortunately interrupted" by the foul and ejection.
While losing Barnes for the last 30 seconds of the game wasn't the only reason the Raptors lost the game, 118-113, despite holding a six-point lead with three minutes left, it certainly dampened what could've been an exciting finish.
Given the fuzzy explanation about what led to Barnes' ejection, this is something that the league could rescind after reviewing the tape. That doesn't really help the Raptors in the long run, and will only add to the frustration of the initial call in the first place.
But regardless of what the league does, Barnes' ejection just shouldn't have happened. Games are tight. Playoff berths are on the line. Players are invested in games, competing hard, as they should, as we all want them to. And sometimes there are emotional reactions to calls, good or bad.
This isn't the first instance of the officials getting heavy handed when it comes to handing out technicals or ejections, and this season especially has seen some really bad calls. This was an egregious mistake by Foster that played a huge factor in Toronto's loss.