NBA report admits incorrect call that led to Celtics’ loss to Pacers

Celtics

“That cost our team the game, and you expect us not to be frustrated, you know what I mean?”

The Celtics came up just short against the Pacers on Monday night. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)

Just minutes after the Celtics dropped a frustrating 133-131 loss to the Pacers on Monday night, Joe Mazzulla was looking ahead to Tuesday.

It was an expected response for any coach looking to quickly turn the page after a two-point defeat. But specifically, Mazzulla was looking forward to the NBA’s expected release of its Last 2-Minute Report — which details whether the calls made in the final possessions of close games were correct.

Mazzulla had good reason to be upset.

With the game tied at 131-131 with 3.2 seconds left on the clock, Jaylen Brown had a shot blocked by Indiana’s Buddy Hield. Officials whistled Hield for a foul on the play, but later reversed the call after Indiana challenged it.

Just seconds later, Kristaps Porzingis was whistled for fouling Bennedict Mathurin on a 3-point attempt with 0.6 seconds left, allowing the Pacers to sink the go-ahead baskets en route to the win.

Ultimately, Tuesday’s Last 2-Minute Report revealed the Celtics caught a bad break in Indianapolis. But probably not the play that the Celtics were expecting.

The NBA ultimately ruled that Hield’s block on Brown was clean, which was the main point of contention from Mazzulla, Brown, and the rest of the Celtics. However, the league also ruled that Porzingis should not have been whistled for a foul on Mathurin, either.

According to the report, Hield only made incidental contact with Brown’s head.

The report read: 

“On replay review, the coach’s challenge of the shooting foul on Hield (IND) was deemed successful. The video clearly shows that Hield reaches forward and makes contact with the ball from behind Brown (BOS). While in contact with the ball, Hield also makes minimal contact with Brown’s head, and on review that contact was correctly deemed incidental. As the rulebook makes clear, the mere fact that contact occurs does not necessarily constitute a foul; contact which is incidental to an effort by a player to defend an opponent, reach a loose ball, or perform normal defensive or offensive movements is not considered illegal. Play resumed with IND possession, since Nesmith (IND) had imminent possession at the point of interruption.”

As for Porzingis’ foul, the report shared a similar sentiment, noting that the Celtics big man’s contact with Mathurin was marginal.

Per the report: “Porzingis (BOS) is above the ball and legally contests Mathurin’s (IND) shot attempt, with some incidental arm contact occurring concurrent with the block,” the Last 2-Minute Report said. “Referees conducted a replay review to determine if the foul was called with no time remaining on the clock, and determined it was called before the expiration of time. The clock was reset with 0.6 remaining on the clock. The foul itself was not a reviewable matter under this replay trigger.”

Brown was clearly steamed after Hield’s foul on him was overturned on Monday. 

“Like that cost our team the game, and you expect us not to be frustrated, you know what I mean? We’re trying to build great habits,” Brown said, as captured by CLNS Media. “We’re trying to win as many games as possible, and we just dropped one because of that. So, I feel like we got the right to be upset and the league should understand. Of course we’re going to say something about it after the game, so I don’t think there should be any fines. But I definitely think that one should be investigated.”

Lakers star LeBron James echoed a similar message on Tuesday, voicing his displeasure on X about the foul on Hield that was ultimately overturned. 

Jayson Tatum was not thrilled with the findings presented by the report on Tuesday.