The Boston Celtics did a lot to beat themselves on Monday night in Charlotte. But it appears the officials didn’t help their cause in the final seconds of overtime.
Celtics star Jayson Tatum had a chance to tie the score after the Hornets fouled him with 5.2 seconds left when he made a 3-pointer and Boston trailed by three. Tatum made the first two free throws but missed the third, and the Celtics attempted to foul Hornets forward Miles Bridges after he secured the rebound.
The foul appeared to have occurred with about 3.0 seconds left, but the Spectrum Center clock ran for at least a full second before stopping at 1.7 seconds. (Watch the sequence at the 3:52 mark of the video below.)
That extra second proved costly: Boston fouled Gordon Hayward on the ensuing inbounds pass with just 0.8 seconds left and was unable to attempt a shot on the next possession, sealing the ball a disappointing 121-118 loss.
After fouling Bridges, several Celtics players signaled to the refereeing team to initiate a replay and add more time to the clock, but the game continued without review. After the game, C’s big man Kristaps Porzingis shared his perspective on what happened.
“I think there definitely should have been more time (on the clock),” Porzingis said. via Jay King of The Athletic. “I guess the whistle was late, so the clock kept running. I don’t know, they had an explanation, but it was during the game and I thought, ‘Okay, it just looks like we’re moving on.'”
Tatum was also upset that officials didn’t review the play.
“I mean, I thought too much time would pass, but I guess they couldn’t go back and look at it.” Tatum said. “I don’t know.”
Even though the clock mishap robbed Boston of one last chance, it wasn’t the reason the Celtics lost this game. They led by as many as 18 points and had a nine-point advantage with 2:20 remaining in regulation before falling apart in the homestretch.
Free throws may have been the main culprit in the collapse: Jrue Holiday had a chance to put the game on ice in regulation time when the C’s were ahead by two with ten seconds left, but missed both free throws, leading to a game-winning layup by LaMelo Ball on the other side led end.
“I definitely should have had more time on the clock, but we had a lot of opportunities to finish it before and we didn’t,” Porzingis added. “So we can’t blame it on this little detail that happened.”
The Celtics will get a much-needed day off on Tuesday before preparing for their showdown with the Milwaukee Bucks on Wednesday night at TD Garden. Kickoff is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. ET on NBC Sports Boston.