An entertaining, overtime-extended MLK Day bout between the Brooklyn Nets and Miami Heat wound up colliding with an underwhelming and highly questionable conclusion on Monday night.
After holding a five-point edge for the vast majority of the game's extended stretch of play, Miami clawed their way back into the mix during the final minute and a half of action. They would eventually claim a 96-95 edge at the 12-second mark following two free throw makes by Jimmy Butler, who was sent to the line after an extremely controversial whistle on guard Dennis Smith Jr..
Despite having the opportunity to request a challenge and potentially overturn the on-court ruling, Nets coach Jacque Vaughn allowed things to play out as called, with the YES officiating crew suggesting that this decision, though obscure, could have been an effort to guarantee them their final timeout and allow the team to set up at halfcourt for a final possession.
However, after Butler knocked down his second free throw to give Miami a one-point lead, Brooklyn surprisingly opted to inbound the ball at the full-court baseline, where they then proceeded to get into a seemingly unscripted isolation set for Mikal Bridges that, ultimately, proved unsuccessful.
A decision that has both fans and media pundits rather perplexed, following the game Vaughn opened up to reporters about what his thought process was during these crucial finals seconds.
Nets coach Jacque Vaughn dishes on questionable decision-making
"I got a chance to look at it real quickly during the game and just felt they weren't going to overturn that. We felt Dennis had his left arm wrapped around the backside of the driver and I didn't think...they were going to overturn that call. "- Jacque Vaughn said
Vaughn would then be asked what served as the driving force in him not utilizing their final overtime timeout.
"11 seconds on the clock, we have shooters on the floor, a great opportunity for them not to sub. They kept [Tyler] Herro in the game, we tried to attack him and turn the corner. Really good defense by Jimmy Butler. We got a shooter spotted up in the left corner, Royce [O'Neale] is peeling at the top, and Cam Thomas is over in the right corner. I don't think I'm going to be able to draw anything up better than that."- Jacque Vaughn
Though hindsight is 20/20, even upon live viewing of how things played out it appeared to have been a waste for the Nets to refrain from challenging the initial foul call on DSJ only to then let their final timeout go unused.
Had Vaughn called a huddle, perhaps he would have been able to construct a more well-designed plan with a clearer agenda rather than just having a team that's lacking in the true play-maker department try and do it on their own.
In the end, unfortunately, an opportunity to pull out win number three on the year against their conference rivals was squandered, and the Nets now find themselves amid a three-game losing streak and boast a lackluster record of 16-23 on the year.