EMPIRE OF THE SUNS

Suns’ Vogel incensed at Lakers’ timeout by LeBron James as Austin Reaves lost possession

Dec 6, 2023, 8:15 AM | Updated: 8:21 am

Austin Reaves of the Lakers is trapped by Devin Booker and Kevin Durant of the Suns...

Austin Reaves #15 of the Los Angeles Lakers is defended by Kevin Durant #35 and Devin Booker #1 of the Phoenix Suns in the second half during the 2023 NBA In-Season Tournament quarterfinals at Crypto.com Arena on December 05, 2023 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

(Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

The Phoenix Suns thought they had forced a backcourt turnover on the Lakers’ Austin Reaves while trailing by two points in the final 10 seconds of the NBA In-Season Tournament quarterfinals, but they instead watched Los Angeles head back to a huddle with LeBron James calling timeout to retain possession for Los Angeles.

Instead of a forced turnover and Grayson Allen layup to tie it up on Tuesday night at Crypto.com Arena, the Lakers inbounded out of the timeout, got an extra point at the foul stripe and came away with a 106-103 win.

Suns head coach Frank Vogel was steaming after the game about the explanation from referees.

“Not a good one. I mean, it’s a loose ball and the ball’s out and can’t call timeout on a loose ball … can’t do it,” Vogel told reporters, including AZCentral.com’s Duane Rankin. “If the whistle blows …  everything in the league is reviewable. I don’t know why that can’t be reviewable. I know it’s not a foul or an out-of-bounds, which is like a challenge. But at any point in the game, the whistle blows inadvertently, the ref can huddle up and say, ‘inadvertent whistle, where were we at during the game?’ That did not happen. Extremely disappointed.

“See it all the time: Inadvertent whistle, take it out on the side. Nobody had the ball? Jump ball. Grayson Allen is going to grab it and lay it in (if the timeout wasn’t awarded).”

Here’s what the pool report with crew chief Josh Tiven said of the call:

Question: Why were the Lakers awarded a timeout when it appeared that they did not have possession of the ball?

Tiven: During live play the official felt that LA still had possession of the ball when LeBron James requested the timeout.  Through postgame video review in slow motion replay, we did see that Austin Reaves had his left hand on the ball while it’s pinned against his left leg, which does constitute control.

Still photos from another angle did catch Reaves with two hands pinning the ball to his leg.

Not in a vacuum though, that came after Reaves had already picked up his dribble, lost possession, tried to regain possession with a few dribbles and picked up his dribble again. He held the ball for a split second after the second gather. Surely, the two-minute report coming will hinge on what constitutes possession.

It was bizarre that the Suns were close — let alone behind — against the Lakers in that situation at all.

The Suns shot 49% from the field to the Lakers’ 37%, and NBA teams had a .994 record when shooting at least 49% while holding an opponent to 37.5% or less, per NBA reporter Justin Russo. TNT’s broadcast said the Lakers haven’t won any game shooting so poorly since 2016.

Phoenix’s 20 turnovers, 21 offensive rebounds allowed and 27 fewer shot attempts combined to make for a close game despite the shooting percentages.

“That’s not the game,” Kevin Durant told reporters after leading Phoenix with 31 points. “I don’t like to complain about calls.”

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