Final seconds of Mavericks’ win over Timberwolves is everything that’s wrong with the end of NBA games

The Dallas Mavericks beat the Minnesota Timberwolves 110-108 on Monday night in a game with big playoff-seeding implications, and the end of the game was awful. It shouldn’t have been. The game was back and forth down the stretch and had all the makings of a thrilling conclusion. 

But no. The NBA believes intentional fouls, intentional misses, parades of free throws and long replays are what the people pay to see instead of potential game-tying/winning shots. Seriously, can the league figure this nonsense out? It’s not that hard. 

The “should you foul when up 3 in the closing seconds?” debate is as tired as it is definitive. Yes, you should. No, you shouldn’t be able to. The Mavericks, based on the stupid rules that currently govern this scenario, played it right on Monday. The Timberwolves had possession, down three, with just over 10 seconds to play, and rather than the clock ticking down to a potential game-tying 3 — the exact sort of climactic ending that people who pay good money to watch these games yearn for — Reggie Bullock just grabbed Patrick Beverley before he had a chance to shoot. 

That’s an intentional foul. Call it as such. Award free throws and possession, and see how long teams keep intentionally fouling. Of course, guys would just start being a bit more discreet with their fouls, graying the area of intentionality. Fine. Any foul, whether on the floor or the shot, that occurs outside the 3-point arc and inside the final 24 seconds of game time results in three free throws. Problem solved. 

Unfortunately, that intentional foul on Beverley was only the beginning of a circus sequence only made necessary by this ridiculous rule, or lack thereof, however you want to look at it. After Beverley went to the line for two free throws, the first of which he missed, he had to miss the second on purpose. He managed to graze the rim in a perfect enough fashion to get his own rebound, at which point he was … fouled. Again. 

Or was he? 

Of course, the Mavericks asked for a review of the call, which they got. So now, instead of a potential game tying 3-pointer, we get an intentionally missed free throw followed by a lengthy review. Anyone else ready to turn the channel? The Mavericks won their case, which resulted in a jump ball instead of more Beverley free throws. 

The Timberwolves, still down three, won the jump ball, at which point we got the distinct pleasure of getting to witness the entire sequence all over again. Beverley chases down the loose ball, but before he can step back into a potential game-tying 3-pointer, Luka Doncic intentionally fouled him again. 

Author: Lucy Green