WATCH: Isaiah Thomas says ref 'made a horrible call,' robbed Celtics of win
Controversial call on Marcus Smart sent Bulls star Jimmy Butler to the line for winning free throws
Down by one point against the Boston Celtics on Thursday, the Chicago Bulls put the ball in star swingman Jimmy Butler’s hands. Butler sized up defender Marcus Smart from well behind the 3-point line until there were less than three seconds on the clock, then put the ball on the floor, took two hard dribbles right, spun left and went up for a jumper. The ball hit the rim, the final buzzer went off and some of the players on the floor didn’t hear that the referee had blown the whistle. A foul was called on Smart, sending Butler to the line for two free throws. He hit both, giving the Bulls a 104-103 victory.
Thomas said directly that it “cost us the game,” adding that he was running off the court and “the Bulls were even shocked.”
Smart, via MassLive, initially offered a “no comment” when asked if he touched Butler on the play, but later said he “played helluva great defense right there, and I know I did,” asserting that the referee only called the foul after Butler yelled, ‘No foul?’”
On replay, it’s extremely difficult to tell whether or not Smart made contact with Butler’s elbow. If he did, that’s certainly a foul, regardless of how much time is left on the clock. If he didn’t, then Smart defended Butler perfectly, getting close enough to him to disrupt the shot attempt without fouling him. Smart obviously believes it was the latter, which is why he said he was “punished for playing good D, I guess.”
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