Game 29: Michigan at Northwestern Recap

Dylan Burkhardt
on

Michigan and Northwestern played 50 minutes of thrilling basketball on Tuesday evening, but it was 50 minutes filled with the mistakes that you would expect from teams hovering around .500 in the final week of the regular season.

For a shorthanded Michigan team that has suffered through so many heartbreaking defeats already this season, this one might have been the worst. Despite playing 39 minutes of great basketball, the Wolverines failed again and again to close out the game.

Zak Irvin had free throws to ice the game with 15 seconds left in regulation. He missed the front end and Tre Demps hit a 29 foot step back three to send the game to overtime.

After falling behind in overtime, Michigan made three straight three-pointers and Spike Albrecht had the chance to stretch the lead to seven points with 16 seconds left in overtime. He missed a free throw and left the door open once again.

Even after Tre Demps seized the moment and buried another three, Michigan just needed to inbound the ball and make free throws to win the game. Instead the Wolverines threw the ball out of bounds, opted not to foul and let Demps hit another three.

Michigan needed to make one more play to ice this game away or it needed Northwestern to make one more mistake. The Wolverines didn’t finish and the Wildcats came through.

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Michigan played a near-flawless first half on the offensive end of the floor, racking up 1.35 points per possession, but hit its patented drought midway through the second half. That allowed Northwestern back into the game, but overall we saw some positive signs from Michigan’s offense against the 2-3 zone as Zak Irvin, Spike Albrecht and Aubrey Dawkins all made big plays.

The offense was carried by the three-point shot (11 of 24) as was expected against Northwestern’s 2-3 zone, and Michigan’s ability to finish inside declined as the game wore on (44% on twos). The Wolverines did get to the line fairly often, but those numbers were aided by two fouls on three-point attempts in the first half along with the late-game fouling.

Defensively, I thought Michigan did some good things at times but the Wolverines had no answer for Alex Olah, who finished with 25 points (12-18 fg), 12 rebounds. I thought Chris Collins made a mistake sitting Olah for so long in the first half and that allowed Michigan to seize control of the game. It didn’t matter what Michigan did, when Olah touched the ball the Wildcats normally scored.

Tre Demps hit the huge shots late in the game, but Michigan did a great job on him for the first 39 minutes and 56 seconds. Demps scored 13 of his 20 points in the final 4 seconds of regulation and in overtime.

There’s no hiding the fact that Michigan made a litany of mistakes down the stretch. Plenty of those were attributable to the coaching staff – inbounding woes, not fouling in overtime, the horrific inbound play with 2 seconds left in regulation – and others to the players, especially at the free throw line.

I’m okay with not fouling at the end of regulation – especially after Michigan had just given up an offensive rebound on a free throw – but at the end of the second overtime was the appropriate time to foul. One way or another, this has to be Beilein’s decision not a vote in the huddle.

It would be remiss not to mention just how many minutes Michigan’s starters played, they logged 49, 49, 47, 47 and 30 minutes. Zak Irvin and Spike Albrecht hit so many big shots in this game that it’s hard to pile on, especially when Michigan shot 81% at the line, but the reality is if they hit those free throws they win the game.

I’m not sure how this group can bounce back from this one. Saturday’s home game against Rutgers is still a chance to end the season on a high note, but it seems like each loss hurts a little more than the last. Derrick Walton warmed up for the second consecutive game before sitting out so it seems there could be at least a chance we’ll see him next week in Chicago.

Northwestern 82, Michigan 78-12

Player Bullets:

  • Zak Irvin: Irvin was tremendous in this game (other than the free throw at the end of regulation) and continues to show that he’s figuring out how to be a more complete player. He had a great pass off of the pick and roll and was lethal in the mid-range pull-up game all night. He was 9 of 10 at the free throw line and grabbed 11 rebounds in 49 minutes.
  • Aubrey Dawkins: Dawkins really struggled the last time out at Maryland, but he was tremendous in this one. He had his three-point shot working (4 of 7), but that wasn’t the full story. He had a couple of great dishes, was active defensively (although he still gets caught ball watching far too often), had a nice follow-up layup, a huge block in the second overtime and even got out in transition. He still needs to be stronger on defense and on the glass, but his offensive game is starting to mature.
  • Spike Albrecht: 16 points on 5 of 10 (2-3 3pt) shooting, eight assists and five rebounds for Spike Albrecht as he went for double figures for the eighth straight game. He hit some incredibly important shots – two big threes, a nasty mid-range jumper late in regulation and an array of circus shots around the basket – and continued to outperform basically every expectation, all while playing with a bum hip. Since Walton’s injury, Albrecht is averaging 39 minutes, 13 points and five assists per game.
  • Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman: The only shots that Abdur-Rahkman made were difficult late shot clock threes. He missed his other seven shots and has just 6 points, 1 assist and a turnover. He looked a bit wild overall today and threw up some pretty hopeful shots around the basket.
  • Ricky Doyle: Doyle was outclassed by Alex Olah on the low block, finishing with more fouls (3) than points (1) with five rebounds and a turnover on the night. I think Olah is probably the sort of player that Doyle can become later in his career, but this game was a stern reminder of how far he has to go.
  • Max Bielfeldt: Bielfeldt did some good things offensively early, but struggled against Olah’s size inside. He finished with 4 points on 2 of 4 shooting.
  • Kameron Chatman: Chatman had one of his more vintage first half spells, checking into the game and recording a nice block only to throw a wild one-handed pass out of bounds on the ensuing secondary break.
  • Mark Donnal: Donnal played six minutes off the bench and finished a nice pick-and-roll pass from Zak Irvin.
  • JohnNavarreIsMyHero

    I don’t think we should be taking votes in the huddle or at the very least admit to doing that. If those guys voted to play it out, why were they chasing and closing way too late on wide open shots. Fool me once, shame on you, Fool me twice same on me is my take on that.

    I personally don’t like Beilein deflecting that decision to his players. He has harped continually on how this team is so young and struggles to make the basic plays and yet he leaves a crucial decision like that up to these same young guys. That one doesn’t make sense to me.

    Also, I am not gonna get my hopes up with Walton returning. I have been banking on it for awhile now and I thought the worst case scenario was the game against Ohio State. It just seems like whatever he is battling isn’t healing quick enough and we should just shut him down.

    I have held out hope so long for these guys, but I think tonight is the nail in the coffin for this team and any postseason hopes. I am not saying we are going to give up and fold up the tents, but I don’t see any postseason for us now. The NIT and 9-9 conference record looked golden there with 16 seconds left, but both vanished with this loss.

    It was a tremendous effort, but the simplest of plays (FTs) both missed by guys who were on a nice hot streak. You just cannot miss the front end of 1 and 1s like that, especially when about 1 minute earlier your shots were so pure and swishing. Spike simply has to make that shot to put us up 7. You can’t battle and battle and battle and then blow it.

    • A2MIKE

      Let me first say this, I love JB as a coach, wouldn’t trade him for anyone else.

      However, this season has been a comedy of errors from him and his staff and that has compounded the issue of being short handed. Beilein needs to seriously re-think some of his strategies (autobench, not fouling at end of regulation, BLOB, SLOB, 1-3-1, and several more). I don’t like that he left the fouling or not fouling at the end of OT1 up to the players. I don’t like the insistence on the 1-3-1. And most of all, the out of bounds plays are killing us, both offensively and defensively.

      In the past, JB has been very adaptive and forward thinking in his approach and strategy, but this year I have seen more “Izzo” out of him than I ever want to see again. And when I say Izzo, I mean the stubborn, unwilling to change Izzo. This feels like 2010 all over again. I understand the injuries have a big part of it, and the underclassmen leaving early, but if we are striving to be an elite program, we should never finish a season .500 or worse, and not in year 8 of JB’s tenure.

      • mikey_mac

        Agree with much of this. That loss was a really tough one, so it’s probably got everyone a bit reactionary, but when JB is complaining about the team not picking up the system fast enough and shedding the freshman errors fast enough, it is now smacking as hypocritical as we watch his in-game decision-making really be similarly detrimental, and he’s no freshman.

        • Mattski

          Take over for him. You’ve got the bona fides. This is a coach who announcers were telling us two years ago was the nation’s master of the oob play; with Trey we scored again and again on clever stuff. . . with veteran players. Now, when we are playing freshmen, second-stringers, and walk-ons, you–in your lordly basketball majesty–are going to tell us how “detrimental” Beilein’s approach is, and that he’s doing nothing. This is abysmally weak. Fax us your resume, please; you’re hired.

          • mikey_mac

            I am a huge JB proponent, and absolutely want him to retire at UM a long time from now, but there’s no reason I can’t point out some shortcomings when I see them. Telling me to be the coach because of that? Come on.

          • Mattski

            See my reply above.

      • JohnNavarreIsMyHero

        One of the more frustrating things for me is that if we just had Walton, we are probably looking at 11-7 or 12-6 and are probably a tournament team. The Big Ten was weak this year and to have this year stolen from us by injuries is cruel. The margin is really that thin – basically these injuries occurred in the worst possible year/time of the schedule. Bad luck all around.

  • KenPom win probability graph is about what you would expect

    • JohnNavarreIsMyHero

      Ughh, salt in the wound my friend.

  • Under The Bridge

    Well written summary. The way it went down is really annoying. It’s like some type of payback for the past three years of craziness on the football field against Northwestern.

    • Gladeskat

      This win doesn’t begin to balance the books between NU and UM for those football losses to UM.

  • JohnNavarreIsMyHero

    Dylan, do you think there is any chance of Walton returning this season (Saturday or Thursday)? What’s the word on how he looks when he warms up?

    The best case scenario is the NIT (though this may have ended that goal). Does it hinge on whether we are a potential NIT team?

    The last prediction had us at #6 seed. The 22nd team out of 32 teams in it. This loss probably drops us some, but we might still be considered IN overall.

    Say we beat Rutgers, we would be 15-15, but then (worst case scenario) we lost the first Big Ten Tournament game and finish 15-16 overall.

    Would we get a NIT bid as a below .500 team?

    Would we “accept” a NIT bid as a below .500 team?

    • Colin

      Not that it couldn’t happen but the rule of thumb is that you have to be above .500 to get an NIT bid. This game was a must-win from that standpoint and makes this loss even more disappointing.

      • JohnNavarreIsMyHero

        Yes, very disappointing.

  • jemblue

    Just woke up and watched the OTs. Arrgh! I can’t believe the same scenario happened in OT.

    Why, with a 6-point lead and 20 seconds left, do you guard anything inside the arc? Plant your guys on the 3-point line and concede a 2-pointer. Worst case, you’re inbounding up four.

  • tgio24

    You foul there every time and there is not a stat or highlight that will make me believe otherwise. There is no such thing as a 3 point Free Throw… FOUL!! Fool me once shame on you fool me twice shame on me!

  • Fraaqman

    It is nice to see Zak finally starting to round out to a more complete player, but even though he recorded 11 rebounds it was his man that nabbed 2 key rebounds with under two minutes of regulation left. In particular, the missed front end of a one-and-one, Zak just got shoved aside. He’s got to do better than that, especially off a free throw.

  • Simon

    On Olah sitting in the first half for awhile: there was a significant time in the first half without a stoppage where Olah was sitting at the scorers table waiting to get subbed back in. When he was on the bench and Michigan got a few quick hoops he immediately sent him back to the scorers table but alas no stoppage for awhile and he never burnt a TO.

  • gobluemd16

    Even though the stakes were 10 times less, I felt the same way after that game and this morning as I did after the loss to Kentucky in the tournament last year. That game was absolutely gut-wrenching. Think about the number of things that Michigan had to do wrong and N’Western right for them to pull that out. Absolutely disgusting. No team up 6 with 10-12 seconds left should ever lose the game. Demps even when inside the arc with 13 seconds left in OT and we guarded him closely instead of either 1) fouling, or 2) giving him a free lane to the hoop. How do you get over a loss like this as a fan or a player?

  • Corperryale

    Last night’s train wreck is a bit of a blur to me. This is what I remember (for those who can’t handle criticism of the staff, this is going to get a bit irreverent):

    1. Multiple instances where a foul would have iced the game. What is the rationale for this maddening refusal to foul? Please tell me it is not “sportsmanship” or “integrity” or something. Like the auto-bench, it works directly against us. (Thankfully at least they played the best five players last night with minimal lineup silliness.)
    2. Olah gashed us inside. Difficult to watch him score with total impunity. Seems to be a recurrent theme whenever Michigan faces a random seven-footer.
    3. Obvs, but that NU inbounder stepped on the line. While the refs thought it necessary to review Zak’s phantom reach-in, they didn’t bother reviewing the play that cost Michigan the game. Also maddening. I really hope Michigan lodges a complaint against those refs.
    4. Speaking of inbounds, Spike has a great deal of trouble doing it consistently. And after Max’s Villanova disaster, I didn’t know why they had him launch the last pass (throwing it away and giving NU a chance to steal the game). Basically when your upperclassmen have a track record of doing the wrong thing in certain instances, you should try someone else. Saying “but we can only trust Spike and Max” in such situations is basically dishonest considering how unreliable they have been.
    5. Not much bright side, but Abdur-Rahkman and Dawkins continue to impress. Not going to watch any press conferences but if JB refers to the game as a “learning experience”, I hope he will be referring to what HE still has to learn.

    • A2MIKE

      agree on all points. Using Spike to inbound defeats another purpose last night, in that he clearly didn’t trust Rahk or Dawkins to shoot FT’s, let alone Max/Ricky. So Spike is inbounding to 1 player, and as this season has shown, he is not great at it, by any stretch of the imagination.

  • Mattski

    When kids have made 10 of 11 free throws, 21 in a row, you just can’t get angry when they miss one. I am totally fine with Beilein letting the kids decide about fouling–he’s interviewed at some length about this in the Det News. Everyone’s anxious to scapegoat in the aftermath, but that’s how the cookies crumbled. Hats off to NW, by the way!

    Meanwhile, I felt very encouraged about how Dawkins, Albrecht, and MAAR played. Albrecht and Irvin put the team on their backs. Quite nervous about our big play going forward, though. Doyle sometimes seems quite limited athletically.

    • Mattski

      People might want to read this:

      http://www.detroitnews.com/story/sports/college/university-michigan/2015/03/03/michigan-endures-another-overtime-disaster/24355797/

      Says he regrets. But I just think it’s kind of fun to throw it to the kids to decide. Not that you would make a regular practice. . .

    • ChathaM

      I am totally against Beilein letting the kids decide. I don’t know how a coach with decades of experience can allow a decision like that to be made by the players. I do like Beilein, but that choice says to me that he wasn’t sure what to do. Sometimes, the ultimate leader has to lead, and I believe that last night was one of those times.

      • Madrox

        If you are ever going to turn a end of game decision over to your players and attempt to show them complete trust in them, a late season game in a relatively lost season is really not a big deal. If this was a tournament game or a game with anything on the line, no way Beilein lets the players vote.

        There are legitimate criticisms of Beilein in games this year, but I don’t think letting the players vote is worthy of criticism.

        • mikey_mac

          This is a team desperate to feel success for their efforts. Coach has to do his part to ensure the rewards he feels his team is entitled to. Feeling bad for the kids, as he says he does, is silly if he’s not doing everything he can to prevent that.
          If this result keeps the team out of the NIT, he should feel bad for himself as well.

          • Mattski

            Not “doing anything”? Now you are trolling. There are some weak posts here, but yours is taking the cake. Not doing anything; wow. Reconsider.

          • mikey_mac

            Huh? Where did I suggest JB isn’t doing anything?

          • Mattski

            This is what you wrote: “Feeling bad for the kids, as he says he does, is silly if he’s not doing everything he can to prevent that.” Just don’t feel the facts much warrant this kind of statement. Letting it go now, and apologizing for getting annoyed.

      • Mattski

        Just a thing they did on the spur of the moment; if you read the article, which is worth it, he says he regrets. It will be everyone’s personal decision whether to feel huffy about it. I’ve been in and seen lots of situations where coaches ask the kids what they want to do. Ity gets them involved.

        Basically, we have a team that lost five of its top players from last year, three to the NBA, two to injury. To me it doesn’t follow that a) we can’t recruit (derp, look at those guys in the league!) or b) that Beilein is screwing up. We’ve had 5-7 games that we lost by a handful of points; otherwise, the same naysayers would be telling us the Beilein is the world’s biggest genius. Couple of failures by the refs could also have given us this one. . .

        • Champswest

          Don’t forget, we also lost Morgan and Horford and Wilson and Hatch have not contributed.

          • JohnNavarreIsMyHero

            Yes, people have to remember half the players on our roster are non-contributors. The two walkons (who realistically can’t be counted on to do much besides buy Spike and MAAR a minute or two of rest), Hatch, Wilson, Walton, Levert, and Robinson.

            1/3 of our roster (5 players) right now provide NOTHING as far as game minutes. Add the walkons (who wouldn’t really ever play in a normal season (beyond the end of blowout wins) and thats half the roster.

          • Mattski

            Thanks–yeah, down 10, 11 players–no problem. The internet is marvelous.

        • ChathaM

          What officiating failures are you referring to? There always seem to be a couple in a given game, but I can’t think of anything obvious off the top of my head. Maybe the OOB call that may have gone off Demps’ leg late in regulation?

        • Corperryale

          Then he should also let them decide which defence they want to run. And they should get to pick their in-bounders. Maybe they should have a say in the auto bench. The “letting the kids decide” what to do in certain critical late-game situations comes across as disingenuous excuse when coming from a coach known (and celebrated) for his tendency to control critical details. I don’t know why people are accepting this explanation as a coherent extension of JB’s philosophy, when he is actually uncommonly heavy-handed (i.e. more Bo Ryan than Steve Fisher). This is just buck-passing for an unpopular and unsuccessful coaching decision.

          • Mattski

            Nah. None of those things follow. He just did it in that instance. They all deliberated and collectively said we’re not going to foul. Do yourself a favor and read the article. You want to elevate your blood pressure, that’s your choice.
            An anonymous internet posse comitatus is forming there on the left; you’re welcome to join it. But as successful as JB has been, cooler heads are likely to prevail.

  • UMHoopsFan

    It’s strange how everyone loves Kenpom but completely forgets that he’s repeatedly written that the conventional wisdom of fouling up 3 is not well-supported by the stats. And NU had a rebound off a free throw a few minutes earlier. Fouling may have been the right move, but it’s not at all this unquestionable truth. The inbounding issues are more frustrating. Some of it is being tired, some of it is execution, some of it is strength/physicality (still playing freshmen, etc.), and many teams have their own struggles — but I do think we could maybe have more variety in plays, perhaps some better spacing.

    Irvin looked great.

    Doyle and Donnal need to get stronger. Another summer in the gym will hopefully help.

    i actually thought the Chatman TO was on Doyle. Got to be ready for the pass big fella. Hard to tell from the angle though.

    Bummer UM is not heading back their next year. The crowd is at worst split and it’s a fun place to watch a game.

  • Simon

    Also I understand Zak missed a FT at the end of regulation to seal it, but he did make the previous 4 in the final moments.

    • Yep and that’s why this game was so frustrating. Michigan improved on a lot of things, did a lot of things right and still fell just short because it may a few costly mistakes.

  • psickert1

    I am a tab bit upset about this loss, especially being that I am a major Um fan. However, I don’t our coach decisions. Everyone has had a down year. Syracuse, Duke, Notre Dame, North Caroliname, Texas , Indiana and even a Calapari coached Kentucky team.

    I take this season in stride because we now have the experience to compete next year. If everyone sticks around… we can have a very productive team
    I have question for Dylan., I have heard the Motto Wagner is coming to play on the NCAA and Michigan is his first option. Have you heard of this?

    I’M Sorry if I come across as overly optimistic.

    • Tony DeMaria

      Duke? Duke has made the tourney in 30 consecutive years that Coach K coaches the entire season.

      The worst record Syracuse has had under Boeheim (1975) is 16-13, the next worst is 19-13

      Kentucky hasn’t had a .500 or worse season since Petino’s first season in 1989

      UNC has had one losing season since 1965.

      Notre Dame isn’t really a basketball power, or at least a program I’d want to benchmark ours against.

      Texas has had 1 losing season since 1998

      Indiana is probably the best example of a “blue blood” that has struggled, but they didn’t have their long term coach in place like I think we all know Beilein is.

      Now a couple of counterpoints: 1) Michigan basketball is high regarded historically but their program is not and has never been at the level of Kentucky, UNC, Duke are now. They have the ability to get there but right now its not necessarily fair to compare Michigan to them. 2) This has been a disasterous snakebitten season that almost any program in the country would be unable to recover from, starting with McGarys suspension that led to the draft, Horfords transfer, LaVert and Waltons injuries, Stauskas going to the draft a year earlier than expected. Obviously this could be a blip on the radar, but at the same time the recruiting needs to pick up if UM expects to become an annual power and not just sporatic runs of greatness.

      • UMHoopsFan

        UNC was in the NIT five years ago (with a 5-11 ACC record), KY in ’09 and ’13, Duke did miss the tourney in 1995 (and in Coach K’s first 3 years), but have been pretty notable in having almost no really down years. As for IU, is Crean not the long term coach? They’ve missed the tourney in 4 of his 6 years, including last year with a 7-11 B1G record. Cuse will have missed the tourney 4 out of the last 14 years (3 NITs, now ineligible) and an additional year they made it to the NCAAs with a losing Big East record. Rick Barnes is going to have two losing records in the Big 12 in the last 3 years. Billy Donovan is going to miss the NCAAs for the 3rd time in 8 years. Even very good programs and coaches have down years. I’m not sure that having a losing season is a good barometer because of differences in nonconference schedules and conference strength.

        • Tony DeMaria

          Yeah that would be fine if Michigan were going to make the NIT. My point was that yes those schools have down years but they only rarely finish at .500 or worse. However, I get your last point about differences in nonconference schedules….perhaps its actually a testiment to Beilein that we are hovering around .500 with all the things that have happened PLUS a top 10 SOS nationally.

          Also Duke missed the tourney in 1995, but Coach K only coached the first 12 games because of back surgery. In the games he coached in Duke was 9-3 (albeit surely with a non conference with very beatable teams), in the 19 games the interim coach coached, they went 4-15, so I don’t count that against Coach K. Other than that strange season, Duke has made 30 straight tourneys.

          • So the moral of the story is that Beilein should have gotten back surgery in December?

          • Tony DeMaria

            There’s still time!

  • ChathaM

    I thought we had this one late in the second half when NW stopped going to Olah in the post. There were 3 consecutive possessions where NW played selfishly, took, and missed, poor shots, and I figured that would be it. But, as has been a common theme this season, we just couldn’t close the game. Beyond frustrating.

    It’s easy to pinpoint one or two keys plays in a loss like this. But really, the lack of ability to defend is what prevents us from closing games. Too often, teams get exactly what they want against us. That’s been true even in some of our wins, most notably the OSU win, when they scored at will within the first 10 seconds of the shot clock during their 2nd half comeback. The lack of defensive improvement has been very disappointing. I can accept our lack of size and strength being a limiter, but it’s tough to accept opposing players still being able to cut and post exactly how they want to cut and post. That has to change. I don’t know how it will.

    I do like the team’s offensive outlook going forward. Guard scoring should be a real strength next season, whether or not Caris returns.

    I don’t understand Beilein’s thinking re: full court inbounds sets. His sets indicate that the more players you have in the backcourt, the better chance you have of inbounding the ball. But, I believe that only creates congestion, making it tougher to find an open man. Against man pressure, I’d rather see no more than two players in the backcourt (in addition to the inbounder), with an option for a third player to break hard towards the ball if a crisis ensues. No point banging my head against the wall about this, though; it’s not changing.

    The NW inbounder stepping on the sideline was not a violation, because the sideline is out of bounds. An inbounder only violates if he steps inbounds. I don’t expect TV commentators to know all the rules, but that was a pretty big whiff on their part re: this play.

  • Wolverine May

    Does the loss guarantee no postseason unless they win the BIG tourney? The loss puts them under .500 for regular season even if they beat Rutgers.

    • No, not definitively. There’s no hard and fast rule for the NIT, but I still think to make the NIT U-M would need to do something productive in the BTT like pull a couple of upsets.

      • Tony DeMaria

        And considering its fairly likely that they would play Wisconsin in a potential BTT game, it will be really hard to get to Saturday. I think we are looking at 2-3 more games and the merciful end to the worst year of Michigan revenue sports history (soley on results/results relative to expectations so not counting Harbaugh hire)

  • bobohle

    I’ve been a U of M fan since the Cazzie Russell years. Alot of you may not have been born. After reading all these comments, I agree with the snakebitten season scenario from the NJIT game,injuries and general weird happenings that normally do not occur. As stated previously all good teams go thru seasons like this,but put behind them. I believe IU had this last year. I don’t think this will be a Brian Ellerbe repeat. I do think the coach however should make the foul decision. That was disappointing.

  • Adam

    Just saw the OT on the BTN. They did get a few poor calls to go their way at the end. From the inbounds pass stepping on the line to force 2OT, to Demps throwing it out—and they still retain possession, to Irvin getting fouled without a call on his late made 3-pointer. Still have to play better, but they are fortunate. Haven’t been watching as much as I’d like this year, though. The injuries are disappointing.

    • Mattski

      Also, while those interminable referee non-timeouts may have benefited both teams in equal measure, NW was OUT of them, and arguably had a chance to regroup there several times; during that first one, especially, M really had them on the ropes. Just more grist for the mill, but. . . a lot of close basketball games tend to come down to stuff like that, if you ask me. To pretend that its just the teams and fair play is like arguing that we all possess perfect information as consumers. . . not true.