Heat’s Erik Spoelstra vents after a night of ‘egos’ and an officiating ‘last laugh’ – The Mercury News
The consternation began when Jimmy Butler took an elbow to the face and was called for a foul midway through what would turn into Saturday night’s 126-114 overtime loss to the Orlando Magic at Amway Center.
The final bit of fuel on the fire was when the Miami Heat were called for a technical foul with 10.4 seconds to play after Butler walked off the court and into the locker room amid play, while still technically in the game.
Both calls were made by referee James Williams, the last seemingly triggering a breaking point for Heat coach Erik Spoelstra.
“It was kind of a bizarre deal,” Spoelstra said of the late technical in a game already decided. “There was like half a dozen instances we had with that official.
“It’s neither here nor there.”
Spoelstra attempted to leave it there, with criticism of officiating last week leading to a $30,000 fine for Toronto Raptors guard Fred VanVleet, albeit with a diatribe far more pointed and profane than Spoelstra’s postgame thoughts Saturday.
“I’m not going to get a fine,” Spoelstra said, before the Heat turned their attention to Monday night’s visit to Miami-Dade Arena by the Utah Jazz. “And league, you’re not going to even think about giving me a fine.”
By rule, the technical foul was the correct call, as spelled out in Rule 12-A, which reads, “errors involving the wrong number of players at the start of play, four or less, will be penalized with a non-unsportsmanlike technical foul and play shall resume from the point-of-interruption.”
The Heat entered Saturday 1-1 with Williams officiating their games this season, a home victory over the Minnesota Timberwolves and a home loss to the Portland Trail Blazers. All-time, the Heat are 29-29 with Williams officiating their games during the regular season, 2-2 with Williams officiating them in the playoffs.
“It started off with that blocking foul, where Jimmy took one to the face,” said Spoelstra, who also noted the non-call when Heat backup center Cody Zeller took a blow that broke his nose, with no foul called. “Then Cody took another one to the face and broke his nose.
“And then our debate about those things seemed to carry over with the official and then it became like a matching of egos, I guess.”
With Williams then whistling the Heat for the four-player violation, with Cole Anthony’s technical free throw closing the scoring.
“But he got the last laugh on that one,” Spoelstra said, “the official did.”
Asked if he was aware of the technical foul for walking off the court prematurely, Butler, who hit a game-tying 3-pointer at the end of regulation as part of his 38-point performance, said, “I don’t give a [expletive].”
But he also credited the Magic, who now twice have taken the Heat to overtime in a series that the Heat lead 2-1, with the April 9 season finale in Miami concluding the series.
“They imposed their will,” Butler said. “We didn’t deserve to win.”
Kyle Lowry, who made his return Saturday in Orlando from a month-long absence, and Caleb Martin, who missed Saturday’s game, both are listed as questionable for Monday night due to sore left knees.
Cody Zeller, who broke his nose in Saturday’s loss, is out, as are Orlando Robinson (G League), Nikola Jovic (G League) and Duncan Robinson (health-and-safety protocols).
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