Crew chief admits missed foul, Knicks top ‘livid’ Pistons

NEW YORK — After the Knicks escaped with a 113-111 victory over the Detroit Pistons on Monday night — in large part because of an obvious missed call with 8.5 seconds left when New York guard Donte DiVincenzo plowed into Detroit forward Ausar Thompson — Pistons coach Monty Williams delivered a tirade over what he deemed a season’s worth of mistreatment from the officials.

“The absolute worst call of the season,” Williams said a few minutes after the game. He arrived in the media room before any reporters could get there and did not answer any questions after issuing his statement about the game’s final sequence. “No call, and enough’s enough. We’ve done it the right way. We’ve called the league. We’ve sent in clips. We’re sick of hearing the same stuff over and over again.

“We had a chance to win the game, and a guy dove into Ausur’s legs and there was a no-call. That’s an abomination. You cannot miss that in an NBA game. Period. And I’m tired of talking about it. I’m tired of my guys asking, ‘What more can we do, Coach?’ That situation is Exhibit A to what we’ve been dealing with all season long, and enough’s enough.”

“You cannot dive into a guy’s legs in a big-time game like that and there be a no-call,” he continued. “It’s ridiculous, and we’re tired of it. We just want a fair game called. Period. And I’ve got nothing else to say. We want a fair game, and that was not fair.”

Referee James Williams, the crew chief, was standing right on top of the play, which occurred during a frenetic closing sequence, and admitted in a pool report after the game that it should have been called a foul.

“Upon postgame review, we determined that Thompson gets to the ball first and then was deprived of the opportunity to gain possession of the ball,” James Williams said. “Therefore, a loose ball foul should have been whistled on New York’s Donte DiVincenzo.”

But it wasn’t, and as a result, the Pistons (8-49) found themselves on the short end of a heartbreaking call for a second straight game after believing a travel should have been called on Magic forward Paolo Banchero‘s winning bucket in Saturday’s home loss to Orlando.

“I’d say livid,” Pistons guard Cade Cunningham, who had a sensational performance with 32 points, 5 rebounds, 8 assists and 2 blocks in 36 minutes, said after Monday’s contest. “That’s the word of the day: livid.”

Monday night’s chaos began with the ball in Knicks All-Star guard Jalen Brunson‘s hands with 30 seconds to go and New York trailing 111-110. After Brunson missed a 3-pointer over the outstretched arm of Cunningham, the rebound got tipped by Knicks center Isaiah Hartenstein out to the corner, where Pistons guard Quentin Grimes grabbed it and tossed it to Detroit forward Simone Fontecchio.

Josh Hart then knocked the ball away from Fontecchio on another play that looked like it could be a foul — though James Williams, in the pool report, said it was a correct call — and Hartenstein scooped it up and kicked it out to DiVincenzo at the top of the key.

At this point, there was about 10 seconds remaining, and DiVincenzo tried to fling a pass to Brunson on the right wing but instead threw it right to Detroit’s Thompson. Then, as Thompson tried to go up the sideline, DiVincenzo collided with him, sending Thompson, DiVincenzo and the ball spilling onto the court.

“I went for the ball,” DiVincenzo said later, when asked for his view on what happened. “I didn’t look at the play. You turn the ball over, the ball is in front of you, and you go after the ball. Like I said, I respect everyone’s opinion. I can’t speak on it until I look at the film.”

Thompson, meanwhile, said he “definitely” was expecting a call on the play. But James Williams didn’t blow his whistle, allowing Brunson to scoop up the loose ball and fire a pass to Hart, who laid it in while drawing a foul on Pistons center Jalen Duren to put the Knicks (35-23) ahead for good.

“I was very confused when I was on the ground and the play kept going, I’m not going to lie,” Thompson said. “But, I mean, that’s how it goes.”

Adding insult to injury for the Pistons was that this game was originally scheduled to be played in Detroit — only for it to be moved to New York because of an in-season tournament scheduling quirk that cost the Knicks a home game when they were eliminated in the quarterfinals.

The Knicks, meanwhile, were on the other end of an officiating mistake two weeks earlier when a referee admitted to a missed call in the closing seconds of a loss at the Houston Rockets.

“I’ve been a part of some crazy stuff that’s happened playing basketball,” Hart said. “So, whether there’s basketball gods or not, you know what I mean, crazy things happen in an 82-game season.”

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