The game’s referees have admitted making a “heartbreaking” mistake after being accused of cheating by the Los Angeles Lakers in their loss to the Boston Celtics.
Lakers star LeBron James was challenged by Jayson Tatum as he missed what could have been a game-winning shot.
But the referees didn’t call a foul and the game went into overtime, with the Celtics eventually winning 125-121.
“There was contact, we missed the game,” admitted team manager of match officials Eric Lewis.
The National Basketball Referees Association wrote on Twitter, “Referees make mistakes like everyone else.
“We did one at the end of last night’s game and it’s heartbreaking for us.
“This game will weigh heavy and cause sleepless nights as we strive to be the best referees we can be.”
The non-appeal left James jumping in frustration, while teammate Patrick Beverley raced down the field with a camera seeking to show official photographic evidence of the foul.
Beverley received a technical foul for her protest and the Celtics converted that free throw at the start of overtime.
Lakers player Anthony Davis said after the game that his team had been “cheated” and suggested umpires be fined for the missed calls.
“It’s unacceptable and I guarantee nothing will happen to the referees,” said Davis, who suggested Tatum committed a “flagrant foul” on James.
“We were cheated. To miss such a blatant call, the referee is sitting right there on the baseline, it’s difficult. It’s not fair. I guarantee you that if the referees start getting fined for missed calls would be much better. But nothing is going to be done.”
James added: “We have no room for error.
“It’s one of the best games we’ve played all year, and whether it comes down to someone else’s judgment or non-judgment is ridiculous. It’s ridiculous.”