Matt Barnes Criticizes Refs on Instagram After Game 5 Loss


Depending on which team you prefer, the closing moments of Game 5 between the Oklahoma City Thunder and Los Angeles Clippers were memorable for different reasons. Despite trailing by 13 points with under four minutes remaining, and by 7 with under 50 seconds left, the Thunder stormed back to steal the game from the Clippers.

The win has not come without controversy. After a Thunder steal, OKC guard Reggie Jackson drove to the basket and had the ball knocked away by the Clippers Matt Barnes. The video review of the play clearly showed two things. A) Barnes had fouled Jackson on the play and B) the ball had gone off of Jackson’s hand last.

While the foul was not reviewable, possession was, and the refs decided to award it to the Thunder. Following the decision, Russell Westbrook was fouled by Chris Paul on a three point attempt, hit all of his free throws, and ultimately gave OKC an improbable win.

This has lead to plenty of reaction, including Doc Rivers saying his team was “robbed” of the win. Now Barnes, never one to bite his tongue, has weighed in on the play via Instagram.

While the Clippers may have a gripe, the game is over and both teams must move on. If Los Angeles can’t do so, their season could be over following Game 6 tomorrow night.

One thought on “Matt Barnes Criticizes Refs on Instagram After Game 5 Loss

  • Bear with me while I get this out of my system…

    With 11.3 seconds left in the game, Matt Barnes stripped Reggie Jackson of the ball. The referees did not call a foul on Barnes, but said the ball went out of bound off of Barnes. After a quick review of Instant Replay, the referees determined the out of bounds call was correctly made and the ball was awarded to Oklahoma City. Referees make mistakes, just as coaches and players do. When Doc Rivers realized Oklahoma City was being awarded the ball, instead of losing his cool, he should have used 1 of his 2 twenty-second timeouts. (The Clippers lost the game with 1 unused 20 second timeout, so using 1 of them at the 11.3 marker wouldn’t have been “wasting” a timeout.) Rivers could have instructed his team that they had a foul to give and that they should use it before the ball handler (Russell Westbrook) even gets near the 3-point line. Rivers also could have let one of his assistant coaches diagram some sort of defensive scheme while he spent the time pleading with officials to look at the replay again OR to consider something very obvious that would have caused the officials to overturn their out of bounds decision—the trajectory of the ball.

    On the foul in question (which I believe was not a foul), Matt Barnes is clearly standing in front of Reggie Jackson, but off to the side, waiting for Jackson to approach. Barnes reaches towards the ball with his left hand, doing his best to keep his body away from the oncoming Jackson, who is running like an out-of-control freight train. Because Barnes is not square in front of Jackson, but off to the side, he couldn’t get his full hand on the ball. What he did was to get his hand partially on the ball and partially on Jackson’s hand. In the NBA it is commonly known that the hand is considered part of the ball, so if you hit a player’s hand while it is on the ball, it is not considered a foul. Barnes slightly grazes Jackson’s hand, just as he slightly grazes the ball. If Barnes smacks the ball solidly it would have gone in either of two directions—straight down (because he was swiping in that direction) or in the opposite direction and behind Jackson (if he had swatted the ball at point blank range). Because Barnes didn’t get the ball solidly, he pushed it off of Jackson’s left hand (the closest one to Barnes). Jackson’s left hand then collapsed and fell as the ball continued travelling sideways over to Jackson’s right hand. Jackson’s right hand (which again, was travelling along with the rest of Jackson like an out-of-control freight train) thrust the ball out of bounds, towards the fans behind the basket. It is physically impossible for Barnes to deflect the ball in that direction at the velocity it was travelling with the downwards swiping motion he used. The only way the ball could have travelled as it did with Barnes hitting it would be if Barnes was swiping upward and hit the ball with the back of his left hand (which he obviously didn’t do).

    Regarding the supposed no-call foul, again, in the NBA, the hand is considered part of the ball so there shouldn’t have been a foul called there. I don’t believe there was enough body contact to warrant calling a foul on Barnes unless you think Barnes’ groin fouled Jackson’s knee. (It was more of a “grazing”.)

    Just prior to the incident, Chris Paul made a mistake when Russell Westbrook attempted to foul him with 16.4 seconds left in the game. Paul (as he has tried for the last 2 ½ seasons) attempted to launch a long-distance 3-point attempt in hopes of getting the officials to grant him 3 free throws. This was a mistake because while it is a smart move (attempting to shoot a 3-pointer as the opposing player tries to foul you), the referees have never given him this call. Not once. 2 ½ years. I know, I’m a Clipper fan. Until the NBA rewrites their rulebook (which they should because Paul’s trick move got unfairly swept up in the rewriting of the “Kobe Bryant arm-sweeping rule change”), Paul should never again attempt this shot. However, that said, he’s been shooting it consistently in fouling situations and instincts being what they are, he took the shot…only he didn’t get fouled by Westbrook and he lost the ball, setting up the Matt Barnes/Reggie Jackson phantom foul play.

    So to sum up, we’re all human and make mistakes. Doc Rivers made a mistake by not using one of his 2 twenty-second timeouts to instruct the Clippers to use their foul to give before Westbrook launched his missed 3-point attempt. Chris Paul made a mistake by losing his cool and attempting to shoot a 3-point shot from the distance of Oklahoma City’s free throw line. The officials made a mistake by awarding the ball to Oklahoma City on the out of bounds play.

    On a side note, I don’t believe the officials awarded the ball to the Oklahoma City as a “make-up” call. I believe they honestly didn’t consider the trajectory of the ball after Barnes tipped it off Jackson’s hand. To see the 2 best views of the play I’ve seen, click on the link below.

    When you’re done viewing that clip, check out the one on which shows the best angle possible, from the camera above the rim. At the 1:12 marker of the ESPN clip, they slow down the play so that you can see the ball go from the right of Jackson’s body over to the left (which is how Barnes tipped it). Then the ball moves in a completely different direction towards the stands (which is how Jackson tipped it). The ball travels in the pattern of a number 7 if it were laid on the floor of the court—an impossible path if it the ball was last touched by Barnes.

    If there is such a thing as “make-up calls” (and every sport has them), I’m hoping the officials will recognize their error (regardless of what the statement is out of the NBA office on the call’s accuracy) and give all close calls to the Clippers.

    Game 7 is going to be one for the ages…

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