The Portland Trail Blazers are filing a protest with the NBA to challenge the result of a 111-109 loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder on Tuesday night, sources told ESPN.
The Blazers maintain that coach Chauncey Billups – with a 109-108 lead – clearly called a timeout on the sideline before a referee called a double dribble against Malcolm Brogdon with 15.1 seconds left in the fourth quarter in Oklahoma City.
In response, Billups reacted angrily to what he believed was the failure to comply with his timeout request. He was given two technical fouls – including a second after he marched to the floor to argue – and was sent off in the final seconds of the game.
“We have timeouts,” Billups said afterwards. “Referees are usually prepared for, you know, this situation. I'm halfway through the court trying to take a time out. It's just frustrating. My boys played too hard for that. It’s a frustrating game.”
According to a Pool Report interview, team manager Bill Kennedy said that Billups was not given a timeout because the referee was focused on the play in front of him, which made it “difficult” for him to hear and see Billups' request.
“The referee in the slot position was directing the double team that was directly in front of him, making it difficult for No. 1 to hear and for No. 2 to see a coach behind him call a timeout,” Kennedy said . “He is taught to lead the play to completion, which results in a double dribble, and he calls the double dribble correctly and then executes it.” [to that] the technical fouls come forward.”
The Thunder's Shai Gilgeous-Alexander made one of two technical free throws to make it 109-109, and Jalen Williams hit a shot with 2.1 seconds left to secure the win. Portland fell to 12:31 with the loss. The Blazers and Thunder play again this season – March 6 in Portland.
An NBA team has 48 hours to file a protest with the league office and five days to provide evidence of the protested action. The league office then has five days to make a decision. Filing a protest costs a team $10,000 and will be refunded if successful.
According to a study by ESPN Stats & Information, the NBA hasn't held protests often in its history – just six times. The last time occurred on December 19, 2007, when Miami Heat center Shaquille O'Neal was incorrectly assessed six fouls when he only had five. Play resumed on March 8, 2008, but neither team scored in the 51.9 seconds replayed after overtime. The Hawks won 114-111. Before play resumed, O'Neal had been traded to the Phoenix Suns.