Veteran NBA referee Joey Crawford interrupted Kevin Durant while the Thunder All-Star forward prepared to shoot a free throw during overtime so that he could address a problem with the Chesapeake Energy Arena scoreboard. The unusual scene might have been mildly humorous, if not for the fact that Durant missed the ensuing free throw and Oklahoma City suffered a 100-99 home loss to Memphis on Tuesday. With 27.5 seconds remaining in overtime and Memphis leading 100-99, Durant was preparing to shoot the second of two free throws after making the first one. As Durant bounced the ball and began his shooting routine, Crawford came racing from the baseline to take the ball out of Durant's hands. He then made a beeline for the scorer's table to lodge a complaint about the scoreboard. Durant proceeded to miss the second free throw and Memphis held on for the one-point win.
"It was an awkward situation, I'll say that," said Thunder coach Scott Brooks, according to The Oklahoman.
Did Crawford ice Durant? The NBA's leading scorer is a career 88.2 percent free-throw shooter and he shot 87.3 percent from the line this season. However, Durant uncharacteristically shot 3-for-6 from the free-throw line during Game 5, finishing with 26 points (on 10-for-24 shooting), eight rebounds and two assists.
"I was just trying to stay focused and knock the free throw down and unfortunately I didn't," Durant said, according to DailyThunder.com. "I don't know what happened, but I've got to make that free throw."
Oklahoma City was still in position to win Game 5 but a Serge Ibaka put-back was a split-second late at the buzzer, nullifying what would have been a game-winning shot.
This is the second time this week that Crawford was involved in a play with one of the NBA's biggest stars. During Game 4 between the Warriors and Clippers, Crawford was caught out of position in transition and wound up running directly in front of Stephen Curry as he lined up a three-point attempt. Curry missed the shot.