Wednesday night’s tense Warriors-Mavericks matchup was highlighted by one of the oddest buckets you’ll ever see.
With about two minutes left in the third quarter, Kevon Looney scored while all five Mavs were on the other side of the floor, as there was confusion as to who possessed the ball after a timeout. Jordan Poole quickly inbounded the ball once he got it from a referee and Looney got a quick, uncontested slam out of it, surrounded by only his teammates. The Warriors would go on to win 127-125 after Reggie Bullock hit a 3-pointer with 0.1 seconds left in the game.
“I didn’t know what was going on,” Looney said laughing, after finishing with 12 points and 12 rebounds. “I’m just glad JP passed it to me, because all of us were open. I needed that for my double-double. Thank you, JP.”
Mark Cuban and the Mavericks are expected to file a protest to the league office in the coming days. An upheld protest would require a replay of the game from error, which occurred with 1:56 in the third quarter.
Tim Cato of The Athletic served as a pool reporter and followed up with crew chief Sean Wright after the game to get an explanation from the officials.
“Initially on the floor the original signal was in fact Golden State ball as this can be seen on video,” Wright told Cato. “There is a second signal but that signal is for a mandatory timeout that was due to the Mavs.”
As weird as the play looked, Cuban might have a tough case. Video from the play before the timeout shows that referee Andy Nagy pointed to the Warriors bench first, before pointing to the Mavericks bench for the timeout. He even clarified the second point with Looney, who got riled up and thought it was going Dallas’ way. The Mavericks thought they were awarded possession.
After the game, Mavs coach Jason Kidd told reporters what happened from his point of view. He was confused as to why referee Michael Smith was on Dallas’ side of the court.
“It wasn’t really explained,” Kidd said. “There was a lot of confusion. A lot of people were out of position. … Mike was on the baseline. So I would assume that Mike thought it was our ball too. … If there’s confusion, it’s easy to just come in and just blow the whistle and get us restarted.”
Warriors coach Steve Kerr was in a much better mood after Golden State (37-36) stayed in the No. 6 seed, while dropping the Mavericks (36-37) to No. 9 in the wild West.
“It was my best ATO (after timeout play) of the year,” Kerr joked. “It worked brilliantly, just the way we got organized and confused them. When I saw them at the other end, I had to stop and think, ‘Wait, isn’t this our basket? … I don’t know what happened. You’d have to ask their side. I thought it was pretty clear that it was our ball.”