The refs have already admitted they blew controversial call during Knicks vs. Pacers

With 52 seconds left in Game 1 of the 2024 Eastern Conference Semifinals, Aaron Nesmith was whistled for a kicked ball violation with the Knicks and Pacers knotted at 115-115, and the Knicks scored on the ensuing possession to take a 118-115 lead they wouldn’t relinquish, ultimately winning the game 121-117.

The problem? Nesmith didn’t appear to actually kick the ball, as was fairly apparent on even a cursory replay review:

The call was not challengable or reviewable, however, and so there was nothing anyone could do to fix it. But after the game, referee crew chief Zach Zarba immediately admitted in the media Pool Report that he and his crew had blown it:

QUESTION: Upon review, was the kicked ball call against Aaron Nesmith deemed to be correct?

ZARBA: On the floor we felt that would be a kicked ball violation. Post game review did show that it hit the defender’s hand, which would be legal.

QUESTION: Could the Pacers have been allowed to challenge the kick ball call?

ZARBA: A kicked ball violation is not reviewable and not subject to the coach’s challenge. The three things that teams can challenge are fouls, goaltends and out of bounds.

As you would expect, the Pacers were less than thrilled:

That is… a rough break for Indy and their fans, especially considering that Myles Turner was also (controversially) whistled for an illegal screen with 12.1 seconds remaining and the Pacers having the chance to take the lead.

Head coach Rick Carlisle challenged that ruling, but it was not overturned, something he clearly wasn’t happy about after the game, although both he and Turner didn’t completely blame the referees for the outcome:

Still, that degree of personal accountability isn’t going to make Pacers fans sleep much better tonight, and may lead to more sleepless evenings if they ultimately end up losing a tight series.

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