Malone was upset because the officials chose to award a jump ball with 1.9 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter. Down one, Sacramento's Rudy Gay worked in the paint against Tayshaun Prince and Mike Conley. Gay lost control of the ball on his way up and he came back down to the court with possession.
Rather than calling a foul on Conley or Prince for reaching in, or an up-and-down violation on Gay, the referees whistled for a held ball, which requires a jump ball at the free throw line. The Grizzlies controlled the ensuing tap and the game was over.
Before heading to the showers, Malone came across the court to seek out referee Marc Davis. Kings blog SacTownRoyalty.com read Malone's lips, noting that it appeared he repeatedly called Davis a "coward" before he left the court.
''I thought it was an awful call,'' Malone said in his post-game comments, according to the Associated Press. ''I didn't see a jump (ball). It looked like to me the official made the call and was running the other way.''
Gay added: ''Anybody that saw it at home saw what happened. You (can) make up whatever you want to make up about that.''
In his first year as a head coach, Malone has developed a reputation as an intense straight-talker. Following a December loss to the Pelicans, Malone ripped the Kings, calling his squad a "bad basketball team" that has "hit rock bottom four or five times." Video via YouTube user NBAshowtimeHD