I Think We Can Give The Officials A Little Break And Toss Some Blame The Spurs Way For Their Loss Last Night
First and foremost, that was a foul. As if the situation itself wasn't enough to assume it was a foul, Kawhi clearly wrapped his arms around Westbrook - even if the referee was in a terrible position to get a good enough look at it. So yes, it was a missed call and Russell Westbrook should have been on the line attempting to put the Thunder up 3 with mere seconds left in the game, not on the line polishing off a 3 point play to make it a two score game.
Unfortunately, if we have learned anything from this postseason it's that the referees aren't very trustworthy. In fact, I have more faith in the Spurs to always make the right play than I have in the officials to always make the right call. That's why some blame has to fall on the shoulders of San Antonio. Not only for shooting 28% in the 4th quarter and letting the Thunder take a late lead while their two superstars were shooting a combined 20/48 from the field, but for putting the officials in a position to decide the game.
Kawhi Leonard is far too good of a defender to let Russell Westbrook catch that ball and turn the corner on him, and once you get a player going to the basketball with that much speed you're opening the door for controversy. As much of a foul as it was, Russell Westbrook did a hell of a job playing through it like it wasn't and he wouldn't have been able to do that if the 'Defensive Player Of The Year' had been attached to his hip. I liken it to a late game situation in which a team is fouling while up 3, and the first thing they teach you in that situation is to make sure the player your fouling isn't in a position to get a shot up. Instead of staying in front of Westbrook, Kawhi Leonard was tripping all over himself while in catchup mode. Did the referees botch it? Of course they did, but the Spurs gave them that ability so I'm not going to lose my mind because their desperation attempt to tie it up was unjustly taken from them.