If you watched the Thunder-Nuggets game on Sunday night, you probably remember this play, which came with just over a minute remaining in the fourth quarter. Kendrick Perkins, the Oklahoma City big man who has struggled a bit — with injury and with scoring — since he arrived from Boston in February, scored on a crucial put-back off of a Russell Westbrook miss.
Yesterday, the NBA confirmed that the basket was a goaltending violation and should not have counted. "Although a player is permitted to touch the net while the ball is in the cylinder above the rim," the league said in a statement, "Perkins also touched the ball while it was still in the cylinder which is a violation and constitutes goaltending."
Perkins' basket (just his second of the game; he finished with 4 points in 28 minutes of action while his Denver counterpart, Nene Hilario, had 22) put the Thunder up 102-101, and they ended the game on a 5-2 run to take the first game in the series, 107-101.
Denver coach George Karl was surprisingly tame in his response: He said that while he and his players "were in shock that the call wasn't made," he wasn't "smart enough" to call a timeout on the ensuing possession in order to regroup his team. Three referees missed what looked like an obvious call — all five of the Denver players on the floor certainly knew it when it happened — and Karl takes the fall. "It doesn't mean anything other than we can go out and win Wednesday night," he said.
Perkins' statement was, well, perfectly Perkins. "They didn't call it," he said. "So, it was a basket."
And he's right. He didn't technically earn his four, but Perk got his four.