NBA says referees made correct call at end of Magic-Cavaliers game

BOSTON — The NBA said the officiating crew for the Orlando Magic’s narrow loss Thursday night to the Cleveland Cavaliers made the correct call when Orlando’s Shelvin Mack was whistled for a foul on Cleveland’s Isaiah Thomas with 11.2 seconds remaining in regulation as Orlando clung to a one-point lead.

Magic players and coach Frank Vogel thought Mack had gained equal possession of the basketball without fouling Thomas and thought referees should’ve called for a jump ball.

Instead, Thomas took two free throws and made them both, putting the Cavaliers ahead. On the Magic’s ensuing possession, Elfrid Payton missed a tightly contested layup with 3.2 seconds left, and the Cavs won the game 104-103.

The NBA evaluates every call and non-call from every game.

But the league releases its findings in a document it calls a “Last Two Minute Report” whenever a game is at or within three points during the final two minutes of the fourth quarter or overtime.

In the report for the Magic-Cavaliers game, league officials wrote that Mack had made contact to Thomas’ arm that affected Thomas’ speed, quickness, balance and rhythm prior to Mack making contact with the ball.

A photograph taken by Getty Images during the run of play supports the league’s findings and the original foul call by referee Kane Fitzgerald. In that photo, Mack’s right hand appears to make contact with Thomas’ left wrist without Mack touching the ball.

The report also said referees missed one call during the final two minutes, and the mistake benefitted the Magic. With 21.9 seconds to go, Orlando’s Jonathon Simmons made contact with Cleveland’s Kevin Love that impacted Love as he drove to the hoop for a dunk. No foul was called, and Love flubbed his dunk.

Rebounding worries

Vogel remains concerned about his team’s defensive rebounding — and for good reason.

It’s just not good enough.

In Orlando’s first 34 games — all games in which center Nikola Vucevic played — the team collected 75.7 percent of available defensive rebounds, according to the NBA’s statistical database. That ranked the Magic 28th among NBA teams.

In Orlando’s last 11 games — games Vucevic missed following a hand injury — the team fared even worse, gathering only 74.3 percent of available defensive rebounds.

“I still think there’s a lot of room for improvement on the defensive glass,” Vogel said. “We continue to hit the guys over the head with the concept of wiping out crashers [opponents who try to collect offensive rebounds] and making them like an offensive lineman, trying to clear a path for a running back. That’s got to be the goal. We too often watch the ball when we’re under the rim and let the opposing teams get a running jump to the glass. So we’re still improving there.”

In Thursday’s loss, the Cavaliers collected 14 offensive rebounds and scored 24 second-chance points.

jrobbins@orlandosentinel.com. Read his blog at OrlandoSentinel.com/magicblog and follow him on Twitter at @JoshuaBRobbins.

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