Did Kelly Olynyk really deserve free throws at end of Heat-Hornets game? NBA report says yes

Miami Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra, left, argues a call during the second half of an NBA basketball game against the Charlotte Hornets in Charlotte, N.C., Saturday, Jan. 20, 2018. (AP Photo/Chuck Burton)

HOUSTON — According to the NBA, Dwight Howard did foul Kelly Olynyk with 0.2 seconds remaining in the Heat’s 106-105 win over the Hornets on Saturday.

The NBA’s Last Two Minute report indicates that Howard “makes contact to Olynyk that affects his [speed, quickness, balance, rhythm] and ability to control the ball. The contact occurs prior to Olynyk dribbling the ball off his leg.”

With the score tied at 105, Olynyk grabbed the rebound off a Kemba Walker missed shot with 5.5 seconds remaining and pushed the ball down the court in an attempt to get one last shot before the end of regulation. With Olynyk approaching to the basket, Howard made contact with Olynyk and forced him to lose control of the ball before a foul was called on Howard with 0.2 seconds remaining.

Olynyk missed the first free throw, but made the second to lift the Heat to the comeback win.

“The one at the end, that is our modus operandi when Goran gets it, possibly when [James Johnson] gets it off the glass — that they can push,” coach Erik Spoelstra said of the play that ended with Howard’s foul. “I saw it end up in [Kelly Olynyk’s] hands and he just took off, which we never really practiced it with him doing. We practiced it a lot with our starting point guard who wasn’t even in the game. It probably caught all of us by surprise, including them. It looked like he actually had a chance to get there and then Howard closed ground and we were fortune enough to get the foul.”

Howard believes the game, which included three lead changes and seven ties, shouldn’t have ended with a free throw.

“He had already lost the ball and was falling before I even pushed him,” Howard said after Saturday’s game. “I just thought that it was something that shouldn’t have been called at that point in the game. They should have just let the clock run out and let the teams duel it out in overtime.”

The Last Two Minute report also indicates that James Johnson’s dunk with 34.4 seconds to play should have included an and-one free-throw attempt because Nicolas Batum made contact to Johnson’s head. A foul was not called on the play, and Josh Richardson stole the ensuing inbounds pass and found Johnson for an open 3-pointer just 3.7 seconds later to tie the game at 105 with 30 seconds remaining.

What is a Last Two Minute report? For every game that’s within three points at any point in the final two minutes of the fourth quarter or the final two minutes of any overtime period, the NBA analyzes the final two minutes and issues a report on the officiating the next day.

“All the breaks went our way,” Spoelstra said of the Heat’s dramatic win in Charlotte. “This league is tough. You need all of it sometimes. You need a great connection. You need good karma. You need to play to your identity and then you need the right breaks and we got that down the stretch.”.

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