Referees admit mistake on controversial 76ers-Clippers play that led to Kelly Oubre Jr.’s epic tirade


The end of Wednesday night’s matchup between the Philadelphia 76ers and LA Clippers was rife with drama, replay reviews and outstanding plays by both teams. In the end, the Clippers came away with a 108-107 win, but it certainly did not come without controversy.

On the final play of the game, with his team trailing by a point, 76ers forward Kelly Oubre Jr. drove toward the basket and attempted a shot while colliding with Clippers forward Paul George. The referees did not blow the whistle, and time expired to give the Clippers the victory.

Oubre and 76ers coach Nick Nurse were heated after the play, as both were separated from the officials by teammates. Oubre, who finished with 17 points and 11 rebounds in the loss, had some particularly choice NSFW words for the referees (lip readers, go to work), which have since gone viral in NBA social media circles.

“First and foremost, heat of the moment, this is an intense basketball game, of course. We’re not perfect, the refs aren’t perfect,” Oubre said after the game of his behavior. “I want to apologize for just losing my cool, because that’s something I try to work on each and every day, and try to represent God in the best way I possibly can, and that wasn’t it. I just ask for forgiveness.

“… At the end of the day it wasn’t cool, so I’ll take whatever penalties come with that and have to move on. But I’ve got to be better, in a sense.”

To make matters worse for Philadelphia fans, the referees admitted after the game that Oubre’s drive should have resulted in a foul, which would have sent him to the free throw line with a chance to take the lead with less than a second remaining.

“On the last play on the floor, in real time the crew interpreted that play as the defender jumping vertically,” crew chief Kevin Scott said in the postgame pool report. “However, in post-game video review we did observe some slight drift to his left by the defender George, and a foul should have been ruled.”

There are countless missed calls in any basketball game, but those that occur on plays that could decide the game are always subject to the most scrutiny. Credit to the referees for acknowledging their mistake, but it doesn’t make the loss go down any easier for the Sixers, who are fighting to stay out of play-in position in the Eastern Conference.

Philadelphia did receive some good news before the game, however, as Nurse said that there’s a “very good likelihood” that superstar center Joel Embiid will return from his left knee injury before the postseason begins. With the big man back in the fold, the 76ers will be a dangerous playoff opponent, no matter where they finish.


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