NBA VP says Russell Westbrook should have been called for travel

ByTim MacMahon ESPN logo
Tuesday, May 17, 2016

OAKLAND, Calif. -- A traveling violation should have been called on Russell Westbrook on a critical possession in the final minute of Monday's Game 1 of the Western Conference finals, the NBA's senior vice president of replay and referee operations said.

The Oklahoma City Thunder led by three points when Westbrook, defended tightly by Klay Thompson, picked up his dribble after crossing half court.

Referee Monty McCutchen awarded Westbrook a timeout with 17.2 seconds remaining, despite the All-Star point guard's dragging his pivot foot, which prompted Golden State Warriors coach Steve Kerr to animatedly make the traveling motion and shout for the call while standing only feet away.

After the timeout, Westbrook was immediately fouled, and he hit one of two free throws to make it a two-possession game. The Thunder emerged with a 108-102 win at Oracle Arena.

"The officials, no one could get in a good position to see him drag that pivot foot," NBA senior vice president of replay and referee operations Joe Borgia said in a postgame interview on NBA TV. "It's an unfortunate miss, but so much going on in the play, the speed of it, and officiating is about getting angles and sometimes you just can't get them, and they did not get a great angle on that play."

Kerr, who crouched in front of McCutchen with an incredulous smirk on his face after the play, said he didn't talk to the referees about the no-call.

"I thought he walked, but it wasn't called, so that's the way it goes," Kerr said.

Westbrook kept his analysis of the no-call to a minimum.

"I just play until I hear the whistle," said Westbrook, who had 27 points, 12 assists, 7 steals and 6 rebounds to lead the Thunder to a comeback from a 13-point halftime deficit.

The Thunder benefited twice from incorrect no-calls in the final minute during their conference semifinals series win over the San Antonio Spurs. As was the case in Monday's victory, Oklahoma City was protecting a one-possession lead on both occasions in the conference semifinals.

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