For 76ers coach Brett Brown, it was little consolation that the NBA admitted the officials botched a game-changing calling in Friday’s 100-97 loss at Denver.
With the Sixers trailing, 98-97, center Joel Embiid was called for an offensive foul for pushing off Denver’s Nikola Jokic with .9 seconds left. On the play Embiid fouled out by picking up his sixth foul.
According to the NBA Officiating Last Two Minute Report, Jokic placed his hand on the opposite side of Embiid’s hip. The Nuggets center then affected Embiid’s freedom of movement by grasping Embiid’s jersey. The report states a personal foul should have been called on Jokic instead of an offensive foul on Embiid.
After Embiid fouled out, Will Barton hit two free throws with three-tenths of a second left for the game’s final points.
Before Sunday’s game with the Charlotte Hornets at the Wells Fargo Center, Brown was measured in his comments when asked for his reaction.
“... I was reminded that I was right, and that is what I see,” Brown said.
He also took a practical look at the situation.
“We stole a game in Portland,” he said about the first game of the 1-3 road trip in which Furkan Korkmaz hit a corner three with .4 seconds left in the Sixers’ 129-128 win over the Trail Blazers. “Maybe something was taken from us in Denver, but at the end of the day it all balances out.”
Brown also said he told his team that one call didn’t lose the game. He said several facets such as poor free throw shooting (8 for 17) contributed to the loss.
Much was made of Embiid’s lack of conditioning in the Denver loss. In 28 minutes and 30 seconds, he had 19 points and 15 rebounds, but also committed eight turnovers and looked gassed at the end.
Brown said it was a combination of Embiid missing the first two games of the road trip stemming from his suspension for the altercation he had with Minnesota’s Karl-Anthony Towns, and the fact that the game was played in the high Denver altitude.
“I don’t think there is any more to it,” Brown said.
He then pointed out how Embiid looked during that 117-95 win over visiting Minnesota on Oct. 30 before being ejected. In that game, Embiid scored 19 points and had five rebounds in just over 20 minutes.
“Pivot back to the Minnesota game," Brown said. “Watch him get up and down the floor, watch his spirit.”