The NBA’s chief referees defended his crew Friday in the wake of controversy over how it affected the Oklahoma City Thunder’s overtime win over the Portland Trail Blazers a night earlier.
Monty McCutchen, a former longtime veteran official and the NBA’s vice president of referee development and training, indicated in an appearance on ESPN’s The jump that officials would be the first to step up and acknowledge they were wrong.
, “McCutchen said.” And this is one of those times. “The Blazers lost starting center Jusuf Nurkic near end of regulation after skirmishes with Russell Westbrook and Paul George, the second of which was sparked by a George elbow to Nurkic’s head late in the fourth quarter. Blazer’s center Jusuf Nurkic said he “shouldn’t have put myself in that position,” watching Portland fall to Russell Westbrook and the Thunder in OT after he was
1 Related  McCutchen customs The jump that was indeed a missed call by the crew of Ed Malloy, Mark Lindsay and Mitchell Ervin. McCutchen added that it should have been an offensive foul and could have been a blatant, although that was arguable and did not think it was warranted.
“We are going to keep the standards on a nightly basis,” McCutchen said.
The Thunder won 129-121. George chalked up the heated emotions and “bad blood” to the Northwest Division playoff race. He thought George hit him again and confronted George forehead to forehead, and both players drew technicals – Nurkic’s second, ending his evening. The Thunder went repeatedly at Blazers backup Enes Kanter with pick-and-rolls, outscoring Portland 16-8 in overtime to win going away. Oklahoma City overcame Portland shooting a season-high 47 free throws, the most by any Thunder opponent this season. Lillard and George shot 20 free throws apiece, surpassing their career-high marks for attempts. Rockets sandwiched in between the two division rivals. The Thunder swept the season series 4-0, but Portland players still expressed hope afterward that the two teams might meet in the first round of the playoffs. If so, expect more flare-ups after the whistle.
Information from ESPN’s Kevin Pelton was used in this report.