In an unexpected turn of events, the Portland Trail Blazers are set to file a protest with the NBA after their 111-109 loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder on Tuesday. ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported the protest is in response to a controversial sequence involving head coach Chauncey Billups receiving two technical fouls for attempting to call a timeout.
The critical play unfolded with less than 20 seconds remaining, with the Blazers holding a slim 109-108 lead. Guard Malcolm Brogdon found himself trapped near halfcourt, prompting Billups to attempt a timeout call. However, the official, Brandon Schwab, did not acknowledge Billups until after Brogdon had attempted to escape the trap, resulting in a double-dribble call against the Blazers.
As frustration mounted, Billups, vehemently pleading his case, made contact with Schwab and received two technical fouls, leading to his ejection from the game. Brogdon also expressed frustration for not being granted a timeout.
The aftermath saw the Thunder benefiting from two free throws and possession of the ball, allowing them to tie the game at 109-109. Following successful free throws, the Thunder secured the victory with a jump shot by rising star Jalen Williams.
Both sides, including Billups and Brogdon, contested the officiating decision. Billups expressed disappointment, stating, “It’s just a frustrating play. My guys play too hard for that.” Brogdon added, “Chaunce, the whole staff, was calling timeout. I turned literally to the ref on the sideline; clearly, the ref didn’t want us to have a timeout.”
Crew chief Bill Kennedy defended the decision, explaining that the referee’s position made it challenging to hear and see the timeout request due to the ongoing double-team play. Kennedy asserted that the correct call was made, leading to the subsequent technical fouls.
While the Blazers’ chances of having the protest granted are slim, they aim to symbolically address the controversial ending. The more likely outcome is Billups facing an automatic fine for criticizing the officials.