Knicks vs. Pacers: Refs missed crucial call against New York in Game 3 loss,

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Officiating was the story of the first two games between the New York Knicks and Indiana Pacers in their second-round playoff series. During Game 1, it was an erroneous kicked ball call followed by a rarely called illegal screen on what could have been the game-winning possession for Indiana. In Game 2, an apparent double-dribble on Isaiah Hartenstein was reversed after it was ruled as an inadvertent whistle. After Game 2, Pacers coach Rick Carlisle went off on the officials after Indiana’s second loss and even implied bias by saying “small-market teams deserve an equal shot.”

Well in Game 3, it was the Knicks that were hurt by a questionable call. The moment in question came with 1:56 remaining in the fourth quarter. The score was tied at 102 apiece, and Andrew Nembhard drove for a layup to retake the lead for the Pacers. The problem? Watch Pascal Siakam and Isaiah Hartenstein under the basket. Siakam seemingly has Hartenstein in a half-nelson hold to prevent him from contesting the attempt.

Sure enough, on Saturday, the NBA confirmed that Siakam should have been called for an offensive foul for the hold. “Siakam grabs Hartenstein’s arms off-ball and the contact affects Hartenstein’s ability to defend the oncoming driving shot attempt,” the league’s Last Two Minute Report from Game 3 said.

All three games in this series have come down to the final handful of possessions, and in such close games, any whistle can swing the outcome.

We saw that in New York’s first-round series against Philadelphia, in which two games that went down to the wire swung on calls that the NBA later determined were incorrect. Now, we’re seeing it again between the Knicks and Pacers. The home team has been the beneficiary in all three games in this series, and all these teams can do is try to win Game 4 comfortably enough to avoid whistles even mattering down the stretch.

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