Questioning the officials is nothing new in any sports much less the NBA but whenever someone does it, it is newsworthy. Especially if someone did it the way David Fizdale did.
Fizdale said the veteran crew of Danny Crawford, Rodney Mott and Bill Spooner “did not even give us a chance” to even the series. After initially saying he needed to “have a glass of wine on the plane” to analyze what happened, Fizdale unleashed a nearly two-minute tirade during a postgame interview that grew increasingly louder.
“It was a very poorly officiated basketball game,” Fizdale said. “Zach Randolph, the most rugged guy in the game, has zero free throws, but somehow Kawhi Leonard had 19 free throws?”
Leonard had a postseason career-high 37 points and made all 19 free-throw attempts. The Grizzlies took 15 free throws as a team against San Antonio’s 32 even though Memphis attempted 35 shots in the paint, 17 more than the Spurs.
“I’m not a numbers guy, but that doesn’t seem to add up,” Fizdale said.
Adding to Fizdale’s consternation was the fact that Memphis rallied from a 26-point deficit in the second half and had an opportunity to win after a 29-point blowout in Game 1.
The Grizzlies closed within 75-71 early in the fourth quarter, but San Antonio responded with 3-pointers by Tony Parker and Pau Gasol in rebuilding their double-digit lead.
“Kawhi shot more free throws than our whole team, explain it to me,” Fizdale said. “We don’t get the respect that these guys deserve because Mike Conley doesn’t go crazy, he has class and he just plays the game. But I’m not going to let them treat us that way. I know (San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich has) got pedigree and I’m a young rookie, but they are not going to rook us.
“That’s unacceptable, that was unprofessional. My guys dug in that game and earned the right to be in that game and they did not even give us a chance.”
This will make for an interesting Game 3 in Memphis Thursday, April 20.