SAN ANTONIO – It will go down as one of the most controversial calls in NBA playoff history, unfortunately the Spurs were the victims of the call.
It could have very well changed the outcome of the game, but instead the Spurs dropped Game 2 to the Oklahoma City Thunder the Western Conference semis 98-97 and now the series is tied 1-1.
The call that will be talked about for years to come came with 13 seconds left in the game with the Spurs down 98-97.
The Thunder were inbounding the ball from the side and Manu Ginobili was guarding the inbound man Dion Waiters.
Waiters leaned in and threw an elbow into the chest of Ginobili, then threw the ball in. The Spurs turned it into a turnover and had a couple of shots at the end, but could not convert.
After the game, Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich tried to get and explanation from the refs, but that came much later.
"I was trying to pressure the ball, had kind of created room with his elbow," said Ginobili.
As far as Waiters was concerned nothing happened other than the Thunder held on to win. "I really don't know what happened to be honest with you," Waiters said.
Asked specifically he he threw an elbow into Ginobili. "My whole mindset was get this ball inbounds," Waiters said.
A pool reporter was able to speak with NBA referee crew chief Ken Mauer. Here was Mauer’s explanation.
"On the floor, we did not see a foul on the play, however, upon review we realized and we agree that we should have had an offensive foul on the play. It's a play that we have never seen before, ever, but we feel we should have had an offensive foul on Waiters," Mauer told the reporter.
Mauer added that an offensive foul should have been called and possession should have gone to the Spurs.
"It doesn't matter, it's over," said Ginobili.
Even with that missed call the Spurs had a couple of shots at a win. Patty Mills from outside and then a couple down low but they could not convert.
"We had a shot at it, we had an opportunity for an offensive rebound, but the ball just didn't bounce our way," said LaMarcus Aldridge.
In the end, the Spurs lost because they started off in an early deficit and hit only two of their first 14 shots.
The Thunder came out strong like they wanted and like the Spurs expected.
"That first quarter really hit us, them getting an eight point lead in the first quarter, but we stuck with it the rest of the the three quarters. I'm happy with that," said Kawhi Leonard, who was held to just 14 points on 7-18 shooting.
Andre Roberson started on Leonard and made it tough on him. "Be more aggressive and physical this game," said Roberson.
None of that worked on LaMarcus Aldridge. He once again abused the Thunder big men scoring 41 points, including another 3-pointer, but for him, it didn't matter.
"I feel horrible, it feels like it was wasted. I've never been about trying to get points and not win. I always try and do thing to win and if you win, it's totally a totally different feeling. Losing like that hurts," said Aldridge.
Now the series moves to Oklahoma City for Games 3 and 4 with the Thunder taking away home court advantage. "We got to try to go to OKC and try to win a game," said Ginobili.
There may be more controversy on the last play. Patty Mills had a chance for the game winner from the corner, but Steven Adams went to guard him.
Mills missed and Adams went into the first row. It appeared from replays, a fan tried to hold on to Adams’ arm.
The NBA, Spurs or Thunder have not commented on the play as of late Monday night.