Well, folks, it’s over. No need to continue searching. We have discovered the ultimate Chris Paul moment.
The Thunder guard’s understanding of NBA jersey protocol saved his team Friday night, giving Oklahoma City a chance to force overtime and ultimately prevail in a 139-127 victory over the Timberwolves. Yes, the whole thing is as silly as it sounds.
With 1.1 seconds left in regulation, Timberwolves center Karl-Anthony Towns stood at the free throw line ready to give Minnesota a three-point lead. Before he could shoot his second attempt, though, Paul pointed out that Jordan Bell had returned to the floor with an untucked jersey. That shouldn’t matter, right? Just make yourself presentable and keep it moving.
Nope. Referee Scott Foster hit the Wolves with a delay-of-game penalty, and since it was their second of the contest, the call resulted in a technical foul. The on-court microphones picked up Paul saying, “That’s a delay of game!”
Danilo Gallinari drained the technical free throw, cutting Minnesota’s advantage to a single point. Towns then answered to bump the lead back to two — it appeared he was actually trying to miss because Oklahoma City wouldn’t have been able to stop the clock with a timeout off a live rebound — setting up the craziest buzzer-beater of the 2019-20 season.
Thunder center Steven Adams launched the ball like Oklahoma quarterback Jalen Hurts and found Dennis Schroder, who floated the ball softly off the glass and through the net. Boom. Tie game.
OKC then dominated the extra period, outscoring Minnesota 17-5 in the final five minutes. Bell didn’t address the jersey controversy after the game, preferring to avoid a potential fine for speaking his mind.
Jordan Bell declined to talk to reporters, walking out of the locker room after a couple requests. “I’ll save my money,” he said as he walked by reporters.
— Royce Young (@royceyoung) December 7, 2019
Paul told reporters he was aware the Timberwolves had already been called for delay of game, and he definitely knew the rule. (Under the “Fouls and Penalties” section of the NBA rulebook: “A delay of game shall be called for . . . A player entering the game when beckoned by an official with his shirt untucked.) He also recognized the irony in Foster being the ref to make the call, considering their, uh, complicated history.
“More often than not, sometimes refs will just be like, ‘Whatever,’ but that is the rule,” Paul said. “If you check in without your jersey tucked, it’s a delay of game. Call it what you want to.”
Chris Paul breaking down the Jordan Bell untucked jersey he called out.
Did he know the T-Wolves already had one delay of game earlier?
— Erik Horne (@ErikHorneOK) December 7, 2019
As for Foster himself, he didn’t give Paul any credit. He told ESPN’s Royce Young that the officiating crew observed Bell entering the game with his jersey down to his knees.
Oh, and Paul finished with a team-high 30 points and seven assists in 37 minutes.
Just play the end of this game before Paul’s Hall of Fame speech. It’s perfect.