By Ben Golliver
Following every game, NBA referees are provided feedback and reviews of their calls in a league-wide push for continuous improvement of the officiating. Most nights, it's probably a fairly routine, and maybe even boring, process. Not Wednesday night in Toronto.
Can you imagine the conversation between Bennett Salvatore, Scott Wall, Eric Dalen and whichever supervisor was tasked with watching this first quarter play from a 102-79 Raptors win over the Blazers at the Air Canada Center? It might just be dumbfounded silence. How else could you react to one of the most blatant no-call double dribbles in recent memory?
With a little more than six minutes remaining in the first quarter and the Raptors leading 12-4, Amir Johnson received the ball outside the free throw line and took a dribble to his right, with J.J. Hickson shadowing his move. After one bounce, Johnson pulled up his dribble and turned to face Hickson as he looked to see whether Jose Calderon would break open. With his point guard covered, Johnson then decided to shoot, pump-faking a jumper, which Hickson defended aggressively because Johnson had already used his dribble. At that point, instinct seemed to kick in for Johnson, who quick dribbled to his right with Hickson out of position after biting on the fake. Johnson then pulled up again after the second dribble, sinking an eight-foot jumper.
Hickson immediately looked around for a call as did Blazers coach Terry Stotts and the broadcasting crew. None of the three referees so much as flinched and the basket counted, giving the Raptors a 14-4 lead. Replays showed Johnson grinning as he jogged back down court, looking very much like a man who had just raided a cookie jar without arousing suspicion.
It's been an all-around goofy few weeks for Johnson, who was suspended for throwing his mouthguard at referee David Jones in mid-December and who shaved the Raptors dinosaur claw logo into his hair. Johnson finished with 17 points and seven rebounds on seven-for-12 shooting in 30 minutes. In beating the Blazers, Toronto improved to 12-20 and took home their eighth win in their last nine games.