Sunday, May 10, 2009
Referee Mark Wunderlich
Much of the hoopla surrounding Game 3 of the Western Conference NBA semifinals between the Denver Nuggets and Dallas Mavericks will be about what the league office has now admited was a blown call. Dallas attempted to give a foul on Carmelo Anthony with seconds left in the fourth quarter. Despite an obvious shove by Antoine Wright, veteran official Mark Wunderlich didn't make the call. Anthony kept playing as Wright appeared to hesitate, and drained a game winning three pointer for a 3-0 series lead.
The league office about two hours later said, "At the end of the Dallas-Denver game this evening, the officials missed an intentional foul committed by Antoine Wright on Carmelo Anthony, just prior to Anthony's 3-point basket." The Nuggets still would have had the ball, they would have been down by two needing a shot to tie.
But Dallas should be kicking themselves. The officials always take heat if they don't let the players make the plays down the stretch. One hears the phrase the officials are trying to decide the game, so they swallow the whistle. Dallas was called for just three team fouls in the fourth quarter. They missed four late fourth quarter free throws. And the ever overrated Dirk Nowitzki was 0-4 from the field in the final 2.38 of the fourth quarter, 0-5, if one counts his desperation heave at the buzzer.
(Thanks to ESPN's Mark Stein for some of those handy numbers.)
Just for fun, don't miss either that the ref in question, Mark Wunderlich is from West Chester, PA, a Philly suburb all but adjacent to the hometown, Springfield, PA, of disgraced erstwhile fixer and NBA referee Tim Donaghy.