NBA says referees missed a key call late in the Warriors’ Game 5 win

The Toronto Raptors certainly regret failing to close out Game 5 of the NBA Finals against the Golden State Warriors on Monday night, but the game’s officials will likewise rue a crucial mistake in the contest’s final minute.

The NBA said on Wednesday that the Raptors’ Marc Gasol should have been awarded two free throws with 49 seconds left after getting fouled by Golden State’s DeMarcus Cousin on a drive. The refs didn’t blow the whistle in real time, though, and Gasol missed his attempt. At the time, Golden State was up 106-103, and ultimately held on to win, 106-105.

Gasol, of course, would have actually had to make the free throws to make a difference in the game, but the veteran is solid at the stripe, converting at a 76 percent rate throughout the season and an even sharper 88 percent in the playoffs. In an alternate scenario, then, it’s possible Toronto would’ve captured the Larry O’Brien trophy right then and there, rather than having to travel back to Oakland on Thursday for Game 6.

That said, it’s not uncommon for the NBA to publicly highlight mistakes by officials after the fact — the league reviews the officiating in the final two minutes of close games — but such errors are no doubt enhanced by the stakes of Monday’s game. Still, that one call doesn’t change the fact that Toronto let a 6-point lead slip away in the game’s waning minutes. Tim O’Donnell

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