Though two free throws were awarded to the point guard of the Wine and Gold, Cavaliers head coach Byron Scott – and the rest of his coaching staff – feel like the punishment did not suit the crime as Nowitzki appeared to throw a punch at the point guard.
During the play in question, the seven-foot power forward was guarding Sessions on the right side of the floor. Sessions cut back towards the center of the court, initiating a bit of contact. Nowitzki apparently took offense to the first bit of contact and swung his left fist in the guard’s direction – perhaps in frustration – ultimately drawing whistles from several officials.
When asked about the foul, Scott was quick to point out how he felt about the matter.
“What elbow?” asked Scott during Tuesday’s Cavs practice. “I thought it was a punch. It was a foul, they called the foul, but their explanation to me was that it was a foul but they did not see a punch. I asked them, ‘if you saw the foul, how did you not see the punch?’ [In reply, they said] ‘I didn’t see a punch.'”
Sessions, the victim of the alleged punch agreed with his coaching staff, calling the move by Nowitzki “obvious,” though he was not sure what provoked it. Ramon would go on to sink both free throws, but Nowitzki would end up staying in the game, much to the chagrin of Scott.
Given NBA officials’ ability to review plays, Scott remains confused as to why the play in question was not discussed more between the three referees given the uncertainty that apparently was present.
“I don’t know if it is [reviewable] or not, but I would like to find out if it is,” said Scott. “Because if it is, then they should have definitely reviewed it to find out if it indeed was a punch – especially when you have four coaches telling you it was. It surprises me that [the officials] get to pick and choose what they want to review.”
With the game clock ticking toward zero and the Cavs down three points, small forward Jamario Moon had a last-second attempt at tying the game, but opted to pass the ball to teammate Antawn Jamison despite only one second remaining on the clock. Though a converted final possession would have made a big difference, Scott wonders what would have happened had the foul been deemed one of the flagrant variety.
“Man, [it makes you think] if they would’ve made the right call on Dirk, we get the ball back and he’s out of the game, you never know what happens,” said Scott. “It’s also kind of the way the season has been going for us anyway, but like I said, the way we have been playing the last week or so, things are starting to turn around.”
It is worth mentioning that, following the foul, Nowitzki tallied one rebound and two turnovers in the final two minutes. Alas, the Cavaliers have submitted a video of the play to the league office, hoping that those in charge agree with their side of the story.