A supposed graze of the elbow cost the Boston Celtics a win Thursday night.
The Celtics thought they had defeated the Chicago Bulls when Jimmy Butler’s fadeaway jumper at the buzzer fell short. But an official whistled Celtics guard Marcus Smart for a questionable foul with 0.9 seconds remaining, and Butler drilled both free throws to send Boston to a 104-103 loss.
It was a heartbreaking finish that left the Celtics surprised as they were angry.
“I thought we won. I ran on the court,” point guard Isaiah Thomas said after the game, via The Boston Herald. “I might have been the first one on the court, and then you see (the ref) raise his hand up like it was a foul.”
The ref’s late call was bad enough to make normally subdued head coach Brad Stevens say a naughty word.
Thomas, who finished with a game-high 29 points, insisted even the Bulls thought they had lost after Butler missed his shot.
“The Bulls were even shocked,” he said. “That’s horrible, man, when it costs you a game you should have won. That’s a bad call.”
He apparently still was stewing about the call after leaving the arena, too.
Smart didn’t say either way whether he hit Butler’s elbow, but he was as puzzled and frustrated as the rest of his Celtics teammates.
“When Jimmy shot the ball I heard him scream, ‘No foul?’” Smart said after the game, via the Herald. “As soon as he said that the whistle blew and I looked. And I saw him raise his hand up with the foul. And I just couldn’t believe it.
“… It was a big letdown. Especially for me. I’m one of the best defenders in this league. I played helluva great defense right there. I know I did. I moved my feet. I did everything right. My hands were up. I got punished for playing good (defense), I guess.”
Thumbnail photo via Dennis Wierzbicki/USA TODAY Sports Images