After Utah Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell was hit with technical fouls on two separate plays in the final minute of overtime and was ejected with 30.5 seconds to go in Utah’s 131-123 loss to the Philadelphia 76ers, the All-Star said he’s tired of the Jazz being “screwed” by the referees, calling the way his team’s games are officiated “f—ing ridiculous.”
“First off, you know, give the 76ers credit. They played a hard game. Joel [Embiid] did what he does, and at the end of the day, they’re a good team. We competed. But it’s tough. It’s tough to go out there and see how we fight and compete, and to have a game like that taken from us,” Mitchell said Wednesday night.
“Now, I’m never ever one to blame a ref, to blame an official — I can say I could have done more — but this is getting out of hand. There have been games like this that we’ve won, there have been games like this that we’ve lost. But this whole refereeing stuff. … We’re nice, we don’t complain, like, we don’t get frustrated, we fight through things, and the fact that we continually get … screwed, in a way, by this. You know?
“We won this game, in my personal opinion. You know? But like I said, I’m going to give them credit. They won. Whatever. Cool. But it’s been a consistent thing, and the question is, ‘Can we do it? Can we sustain it? Are we for real No. 1? And, yeah the hell we are. And it’s getting f—ing ridiculous, that this is what is happening.”
The NBA-leading Jazz, who controlled most of the game, wound up heading to overtime after Embiid hit a game-tying 3-pointer for the 76ers with 6.5 seconds to go in regulation and Mike Conley missed a floater at the buzzer that would have won it for Utah.
Then, in overtime, after Tobias Harris scored four straight baskets for Philadelphia to put the Sixers in front, Mitchell was hit with his first technical with 57.5 seconds to go when Embiid drew a foul inside on Jazz center Rudy Gobert. Embiid gleefully made a “T” with his hands over and over again — pointing at Mitchell — as the referees called it on him.
On Utah’s next possession, Mitchell missed two shots — the first of which Gobert snagged to keep Utah in possession — and, thinking he got fouled, Mitchell kept barking at the officials.
He was then called for the second technical with 30.5 seconds to go, getting ejected from the game in the process. As he left the court, Mitchell smashed a water cooler to the ground, then appeared to apologize to a security guard sitting near it as he went to the visitors locker room inside Philadelphia’s Wells Fargo Center.
“We have a whole second half of the season to go and get ready for, and I’m sick of it, to be honest with you,” Mitchell said. “We all are. This is something that just it eats me. It eats at me, man.
“Y’all know what it is. We all know what it is. But it’s really getting out of hand. It’s really, really, really getting out of hand. And the league needs to do something about this.
“I want to see the last two-minute report. I want to see it. But it’s getting out of hand.”
One thing that will be on that last two-minute report Thursday is a call that was reviewed by the officials with just under 30 seconds to go in regulation, when it appeared Royce O’Neale was called out of bounds after saving a loose ball. On the replay, it was clear that O’Neale did not, in fact, step out of bounds.
However, the officials then said the ball had gone out of bounds, keeping the ball with Philadelphia and confusing virtually everyone watching. After the game, a pool report confirmed that the call was made not because O’Neale stepped out of bounds, but because the ball first hit a referee who was standing out of bounds — meaning the ball had, in fact, gone out of bounds.
And while that play ultimately didn’t have an effect on the outcome, that will be of little solace to the Jazz, who were left steaming as a result of being called for seven more fouls than Philadelphia and being at a significant disadvantage in free throws, with the Sixers going 27-for-35 and the Jazz going just 14-for-19.
That disparity also drew the ire of Gobert, Utah’s other All-Star — who, like Mitchell, also earned himself a certain fine from the NBA sometime Thursday after repeatedly calling out the officials during his own postgame media session.
“Our guys are not able to get calls everybody else in the f—ing league gets,” Gobert said. “We know we are the Utah Jazz, and maybe some people don’t want to see us go as far as we can go, but it’s disappointing.
“Three times in a row, Mike Conley is going to the rim, and they’re grabbing him right in front of the officials and there’s no calls. And, on the other end, there are calls that are invisible that are being made.
“I think it’s disrespectful, to be honest, to the game of basketball and to our team, and hopefully they’re going to watch the game when they get home. … Hopefully they feel ashamed when they watch the game.”
Gobert went on to say he believed the Jazz were being treated unfairly because they play in a small market.
“I don’t want to say that,” Gobert said, “but I really believe it. After playing in this league for eight years, it’s a little harder [to be in a small market], and that’s one of the things that we’ve got to overcome. That’s why I told the guys, ‘When you’re a small market, you’ve got to be better than just better. You’ve got to be elite, and you’ve got to control what you can control.’
“But it’s very disappointing to be disrespected like that. … It’s not just one play because we all make mistakes. I have a lot of respect for the officials. It’s a tough job. I think they try their best but it was too obvious tonight. They can’t make it that obvious. We’re going to watch film and do all that and keep getting better, but we deserve more respect as a team and as human beings for all the work we put in.”