The Oklahoma City Thunder, with an intense demeanor, impressive defense and smart trapping, had clawed their way back into the game against the Phoenix Suns. With 12.6 seconds left and a deficit that had shrunk to four points, big Isaiah Roby and center Deandre Ayton stepped to center court for a jump ball.
Ayton tapped it to Booker and the Thunder defenders pounced. The Suns guard took it to the right side of the court as he tried to escape, but he slipped. He somehow kept his dribble but couldn’t regain his footing.
Booker managed to roll the ball between defenders and to Mikal Bridges, who got foul and iced the game at the free throw line.
Over on the Thunder sideline, head coach Mark Daigneault was irate. From his vantage point, Booker’s foot had gone out of bounds as he slipped and flicked the ball to Bridges.
“He definitely stepped out,” Daigneault said. “I mean, I blitzed (the refs), I wouldn’t have done that if he didn’t step out.”
With that said, Daigneault expressed understanding for why the referees missed the call.
“It was a tough play for them, I think, for the refs, because they were coming out of a jump ball. So they weren’t in their normal positions,” he said.
“And then we were trapping and there was kind of a scramble situation, and I don’t think anybody had eyes on it, obviously. But that was a tough one. And I was pissed, but it was just for our players. We laid it on the line tonight against one of the best teams in the league after a really, really tough night last night, so I wanted that one for them, because they deserved it. …
“But that was a tough one. But I think it was a byproduct of (the refs’) positioning coming out of the jump ball, otherwise I think they would have had that.
Because of the non-call, Bridges made a pair of free throws with six seconds left to put the game out of reach. Oklahoma City guard Theo Maledon made a 3-pointer right before the buzzer, and the Thunder lost 123-120.
#Daigneault #Devin #Booker #stepped #bounds #crucial #play