Mavs owner Cuban plans protest over free bucket for Warriors
DALLAS - Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban said he plans to protest a two-point loss to Golden State after a confusing sequence led to an uncontested basket for the Warriors on Wednesday night.
Kevon Looney had an easy dunk on an inbounds play with the Mavericks lined up on their offensive end after a timeout late in the third quarter of Golden State's 127-125 victory.
The Mavericks thought they had the ball after official Andy Nagy pointed in Golden State’s direction for possession but then quickly pointed to the Dallas bench to indicate a timeout.
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DALLAS, TEXAS - MARCH 22: Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban reacts during a timeout in the game against the Golden State Warriors at American Airlines Center on March 22, 2023 in Dallas, Texas. (Photo by Tim Heitman/Getty Images)
Looney protested when Nagy pointed toward the Dallas bench, but Nagy appeared to explain that he was signaling the timeout. The public address announcer also indicated Dallas was awarded possession.
After the break, the Mavericks lined up on their offensive end, giving Looney the easy dunk with no defenders around as the Warriors took a 90-87 lead with 1:56 left in the third.
Cuban said he planned to protest after posting on Twitter that he thought the sequence was the "Worst officiating non call mistake possibly in the history of the NBA."
According to NBA rules, a written protest must be filed within 48 hours of the end of the game, and the Warriors would then have five days to respond and submit their own evidence. Commissioner Adam Silver then has another five days to issue a ruling.
Protests are rarely upheld in the NBA — or most major professional sports.
Dallas coach Jason Kidd’s contention was that official Michael Smith must have thought the Mavericks had possession because he was on the same end of the floor as the Mavs.
"There was quite a few people out of position," Kidd said. "It’s correctable, but you first have to admit there was a mistake."
Crew chief Sean Wright said officials never indicated Dallas had the ball, and Nagy can be seen telling the Mavericks the second signal was for the timeout.
"Initially on the floor the original signal was in fact Golden State ball as this can be seen on video," Wright told a pool reporter. "There is a second signal but that signal is for a mandatory timeout that was due to the Mavs."
Dallas star Luka Doncic subbed out of the game during that timeout, while Looney had come in for Stephen Curry about two minutes earlier. Jordan Poole threw the inbounds pass.
"I didn’t know what was going on," said Looney, who had 12 points and 12 rebounds. "I’m just glad JP passed to me because all of us were open and I needed that to get to my double-double."
Doncic said he thought officials should have huddled to straighten things out when they saw the teams on opposite ends of the court, including Smith among the Mavs.
"I was surprised," Doncic said about Looney's free dunk. "I was like, ‘What is that?’ I’ve never seen that happen in my life."
Warriors coach Steve Kerr said his first reaction was to question whether his team was shooting on the end where they lined up. But that reaction didn't last long.
"When they were down at the other end, I had to stop and think, ‘Is this right?’" Kerr said. "I thought it was pretty clear that it was our ball, and that’s why I was drawing up a play out of bounds on the baseline."