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Were the Phoenix Suns robbed? Refs stand by call that gave Los Angeles Lakers In-Season Tournament quarterfinals win

The Lakers may be on their way to the In-Season Tournament semi-finals but many are asking if that should be the case after a controversial call.

The Lakers may be on their way to the In-Season Tournament semi-finals but many are asking if that should be the case after a controversial call.

Rules are rules as they say, but after the way in which Tuesday night’s quarterfinal clash between the Los Angeles Lakers and Phoenix Suns came to an end, one could be forgiven for thinking that application of the old adage depends on who we’re talking about.

What happened at the end of Lakers vs Suns that’s caused a problem?

By now you know that the Los Angeles Lakers defeated the Phoenix Suns on Tuesday night 106-103. With the win, LeBron James and his men secured their place in the semifinals of the NBA’s inaugural In-Season Tournament. What you may not know if you didn’t actually watch the game, however, is that there was a very controversial moment that effectively determined the outcome of the contest in the last seconds of it. Now holding a two-point lead and 11 seconds on the clock, the Lakers simply needed to inbound the ball, get fouled, go to the line for two free throws, make them, and win the game. As you can probably guess, that’s not what happened.

No, it was Austin Reaves to whom the ball was passed and the 25-year-old guard proceeded to lose the ball - you can see it above. At that point, the Suns who appeared to gain possession were faced with a real opportunity to win or at least tie the game. Enter LeBron James and a call for a timeout, thereby halting the Suns’ hopes. Except, it’s not that simple. The problem is Reaves didn’t seem to have the ball in his possession when James called the timeout. Indeed, video replays of the moment appear to show that the ball was in fact loose when James signaled for the timeout. What that means - according to the rules - is that it should not have been given, the Suns should have retained the ball, and at the least had their last attempt.

What have the NBA’s referees said about the call?

Not that we expected otherwise, but following the game crew chief Josh Tiven was asked about the incident and he made it clear that he stood by the call. “During live play the official felt that L.A. still had possession of the ball when LeBron James requested the timeout,” Tiven said. “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.”

OK, but what happened after the call?

Well, with the timeout granted the Suns’ Grayson Allen was unable to have a chance at what would have been a quick game-tying layup, while the Lakers were given another opportunity to inbound the ball. The Lakers then called another timeout after which Anthony Davis was fouled and went to the line for two, of which he missed the second. On the next play with just a few seconds left, the Suns did manage to get the ball to Kevin Durant, but the former MVP was unable to sink his 3-point attempt, and that as they say, was that.

The Lakers will now head to Las Vegas where they will face the New Orleans Pelicans in the semifinals of the In-Season Tournament. Should they manage to win that game, they will move on to Saturday’s championship game where they will take on the winner of the clash between the Indiana Pacers and the Milwaukee Bucks. As for the Suns, they will now face another losing quarterfinalist on Friday in the form of the Sacramento Kings. It goes without saying that despite the fact that it’s just a single loss where the standings are concerned, it’s a defeat that will leave a bitter taste in their mouths. Speaking with the media postgame, Devin Booker’s comments were evidence of that idea. “We’re not asking for favoritism, just a fair chance,” he said.