Usually a game between two of the NBAs cellar-dwellers would barely rate a mention but the NBA London game delivered in spades.
The New York Knicks have the second worst record in the NBA at 10-34, while the Washington Wizards are fairing slightly better with a 19-26 record — hardly the makings of a blockbuster.
But the one-point thriller saw a controversial finish with a goaltending call the difference in the ninth game held in London since 2011.
The Knicks led 100-99 but with three second left, conceded a shot clock violation.
It gave Washington enough time to get down the other end with the Wizards’ Bradley Beale threw a pass to Thomas Bryant who got close enough to throw up a lay up which was blocked by the Knicks’ Allonzo Trier.
Trier looked to have come up with the game winning block, only for the referees to call it goaltending and award the game to the Wizards.
It destined the Knicks to a fifth straight loss.
The Wizards were well off the pace throughout the match but romped home with a 24-11 fourth quarter.
Wizards coach Scott Brooks was shocked by the unique ending.
“I’ve never seen that — especially in London,” he said. “But what a finish. This was one of those games that nobody deserves to go on their long flight home without a win, but it happens in sports.”
It was a weird finish to a bizarre event with political intrigue dominating the pre-match coverage.
Knicks star Enes Kanter withdrew from the game and did not travel with the team after an arrest warrant was issued for the star on Wednesday after being accused of being part of a terror group.
There were fears Kanter could be attacked or killed over his opposition to Turkish President Erdogan if he travelled to London.
NBA commissioner Adam Silver said the league hadn’t told him not to go but understood why he stepped down.
“There are significant issues that he is dealing with, and I recognise that for the NBA, by virtue of the fact that we’re a global business, we have to pay a lot of attention to those issues as well,” Silver said.
“I will say there’s nothing more important to me, as the commissioner of the league, the safety and security of our players, and so we take very seriously the threats that he has received, (even if) it’s just people on social media.
“Again, I support Enes, a player in this league, and I support the platform that our players have to speak out on issues that are important to them.”
SIXERS CUT THE “BULLS****ING”
Aussie superstar Ben Simmons said the Philadelphia 76ers’ hot form has come from everyone buying in to what the side is trying to do — or as he said “we’re not bulls****ing”.
Philadelphia smashed the Indiana Pacers 120-96, winning each quarter and building a lead after halftime.
The win also sees the Sixers reach 30 wins in 46 games, the fastest the side has reached the milestone since the 2000-01 season.
It’s a team effort which has the Sixers sitting fourth in the Eastern Conference and riding a three-game winning streak.
“We’re learning the offence,” Simmons said.
“We’re learning where guys are without the ball, and we’re having fun out there.
“I think everybody’s buying in and really trying to get better. We’re not bulls****ing.”
Joel Embiid scored 22 points with 13 rebounds and eight assists, while Jimmy Butler scored 27 points with eight assists.
Simmons had a quieter night with 11 points, eight rebounds and eight assists.
“We had 40 assists the last time we played at home,” 76ers coach Brett Brown said.
“We backed that up with 38. To come into Indianapolis and be able to set the table with our defence but also share the ball the way we did, that’s a statement we’re proud of. That set the table for a good night.
“The fact that it’s (spread out) amongst our group, that’s a huge statement. I’m proud of us sharing.”
Philadelphia also moved within percentage points of Indiana for third place in the East.
Indiana, held to 40 per cent shooting, never challenged again.
Ex-Sixer Thaddeus Young had 27 points and six rebounds.
Oladipo ended up with 15 points and seven assists.
“From start to finish, they ran their stuff, passed and scored,” Oladipo said.
“Their big dogs were big. It should be a wake-up call for us.”
The third pass of All-Star voting is in as well with Simmons still sitting in fourth in the Eastern guards with just under a million votes.
It leaves Simmons in a nervous spot after being overlooked for last years’ All-Star match.
The top three front court players from each conference will also be starters. The fan votes indicate Simmons would need to dominate player and media votes to climb into a top two Eastern Conference guard slot.
If Simmons fails to be a starter his fate would rest with NBA head coaches who will choose seven players from each conference to come off the bench. Coaches snubbed Simmons last year.
Last week, he told news.com.au of his desire to be the first Australian to make the All-Star game.
— with AP
Originally published as ‘I’ve never seen that’: NBA controversy