The Portland Trail Blazers take another loss, but maybe they shouldn’t have because of this missed intentional foul call on the Cleveland Cavaliers.
On Nov. 3, the 3-4 Portland Trail Blazers entered Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse to take on the 4-4 Cleveland Cavaliers. The outcome of the game could have gotten Portland four wins while handing Cleveland their fifth loss, a promising victory for the struggling Trail Blazers.
But the final score was 107-104, in favor of the Cavaliers. The problem is, a missed intentional foul call could have spelled out a different fate for Portland.
With less than a minute left, Trail Blazer Anfernee Simons drove down the court and quickly passed to Damian Lillard. When Lillard shot back the pass to Simons for what would have been an easy basket, he saw Simons lying on the floor of the court. Cavalier Darius Garland hit Simons in the face while trying to dislodge the ball, but the announcers and replay clearly demonstrated a blatant intentional foul.
The score was 101-107, and Portland only managed one more field goal for a final score of 103. The foul not only wasted time, but it was a wasted opportunity for Portland to get more points and potentially take the win.
Portland Trail Blazers get hosed by missed intentional foul from the Cleveland Cavaliers
As the replay footage clearly demonstrates, Garland intentionally hit Simons in the face in order to knock him to the floor.
“They intentionally tried to take the foul in the middle of the floor,” an announcer said in disbelief.
“What looked to be a take foul, or intentional foul, was not acknowledged by the officials,” his fellow announcer responded.
Perhaps the new intentional foul ruling has NBA refs wary of whether or not to call motions that appear to be fouls. If the ref does not clearly see the initial action and only sees the aftermath, they may believe a player is trying to draw a foul. While James Harden has been the poster boy for the new rule, it’s long been a common practice in the NBA in order to draw shot opportunities and potentially win games.
At the end of a close game like this, that could have been what refs believe, but it’s difficult to understand why multiple refs would miss something NBA commentators and countless others caught in real-time. At the very least, NBA refs could have temporarily stopped the game to review the footage, or spoken with Trail Blazers coach Chauncey Billups. Billups was seen gesturing at the court in disbelief after the missed foul call.
While the intentional foul rule is taking sly foul-drawing tactics out of the game, it could also have the negative side effect of causing real foul calls to be missed or ignored by referees.
In this case, the game really did come down to a bad call, something Trail Blazer fans will certainly remember if this has a long-term effect down the line this season.