Lakers, Timberwolves differ on whether Kobe Bryant fouled Ricky Rubio on final play

MINNEAPOLIS — Chaos ensued all around.

Kobe Bryant’s free throw attempt fell short by hitting the front of the rim, leaving him with a split second to ponder the missed shot. Minnesota guard Ricky Rubio grabbed the rebound and raced up the court. Bryant tried his best to catch up. And then Rubio threw up a 28-foot three-pointer in hopes to send the game into overtime.

What happened afterwards depends on who you ask.

Bryant contested Rubio’s three-pointer from behind and his shot fell short, cementing the Lakers’ 120-117 victory Wednesday over the Minnesota Timberwolves. Rubio immediately pleaded to officials that Bryant fouled his arm and that he should be awarded three free throws.

“Sometimes it’s not fair,” Rubio said, “because we give 100 percent and sometimes we can’t control things.”

Bryant remained insistent he didn’t touch him.

“That’s not a foul,” he said. “They ain’t calling that s—. I don’t think I got him. That’s a tough call to make. I just put my hand in. It’s not like I went out and smacked him across the arm or anything like that.”

Minnesota coach Rick Adelman questioned both the ruling and Bryant’s strategy.

“What do you think?” he said. “I mean, come on. First of all, the guy should have never gone and tried to block the shot and he did. What are you going to say?”

And then others just claimed ignorance.

Lakers center Dwight Howard winked and said, “I had my eyes closed” Lakers coach Mike D’Antoni smirked when I asked if he was surprised the officials didn’t call a foul.

“Was I surprised?” D’Antoni said. “I was happy, I don’t know if I was surprised. I didn’t really see it, so there you go.”

Replays showed Bryant definitely made contact, which should’ve given Rubio a chance to tie the game. But Lakers forward Pau Gasol, Rubio’s teammate and friend on the Spanish national team, suggests that doesn’t matter.

“He thought he got fouled, but if you get hit in the hand, even if you get hit in he hand, supposedly it’s not a foul because the hand is part of the ball,” Gasol said. “So, maybe he was complaining about that. I don’t know. Hey, it’s the NBA rule. I get hit in the hand a lot of times.”

But what if the officials blew their whistle?

“We would have gone into overtime and won the game,” Bryant said. “It’s as simple as that.”

What isn’t simple remains the varying explanations.


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