One of the constant themes through a frustrating 12-game start to the season so far has been the lack of respect the Raptors have received from the officials. The numbers alone are indicative, as the Raps sit 13th in the NBA with 23.8 free throw attempts per game, allow the third-most free throws against at 27.8 and sit fourth from the bottom with a -4 free throws attempted differential.

But those numbers alone don’t tell the whole story.

To me, those numbers are more an indication of aggressive defence (obviously sometimes too aggressive) that includes guys like Amir Johnson and Jonas Valanciunas picking up their share of calls, though I think we can all agree that DeMar DeRozan deserves a few extra free throw attempts here and there.

More than the raw number of fouls committed or the discrepancy in free throw attempts, it’s the timing of non-calls that has bothered me so far this season, especially since the most glaring ones have come in the final minutes of close games that usually end up in Raptors losses.

We saw it on opening night, when the refs put their whistles away as the Raptors faded down the stretch, and have seen it all too often this season, but never was it as obvious as Wednesday night in Charlotte. It started with Jonas Valanciunas fouling out on a debatable call with 56 seconds left. Kemba Walker caught Valanciunas in the air, got the contact and basket, and eventually converted the and-1 play to tie the game at 96. I was actually fine with the call, since there was evidence of the foul, and the way I saw it, a penetrating guard will almost always get that call against a rookie big man or inexperienced big man, or so I thought.

Kyle Lowry appeared to be clearly fouled by Bismack Biyombo in the final 10 seconds without a call, and then of course on the final play of the game, rookie Michael Kidd-Gilchrist made contact with Andrea Bargnani’s hand right in front of a referee, who apparently shouldn’t be expected to see what’s directly in front of him.

On Wednesday, the overall 28-20 advantage in free throw attempts for the Bobcats didn’t bother me, but the fact that the most obvious foul of all wasn’t called in the dying seconds did. Give Bargnani, who is typically automatic from the line, two deserved free throws to win the game, and I don’t think anyone’s complaining about Toronto only taking 22 attempts from the line as opposed to Charlotte’s 28.

Aside from the incompetent crunch time officiating, I think my biggest complaint, as many NBA fans and players would agree, is that there is no consistency from a minute-to-minute basis, let alone on a game-to-game basis. I’ve been at games where every single bump and nudge is called at the beginning of a quarter to quickly put one or both teams into the penalty, where then the whistles get put away just a few minutes later and neither team can even capitalize on being in the bonus.

And I understand how difficult it must to be to make a decision on a block or charge call in real time, as you can make the argument it’s the toughest play to call in all of sports, but I’m not talking about those 50/50 calls. I’m talking about plays where a guy’s hand is clearly smacked right in front of your eyes or where a player is practically mugged in mid-air driving to the basket. Heck, Jose Calderon was repeatedly kneed by Mo Williams on one play against the Jazz without a damn whistle.

Now don’t get me wrong, the Raptors haven’t played well enough overall to have a much better record than the 3-9 mark they currently sport, and they’ve done their fair share of shooting themselves in the foot. After all, their free throw shooting has gone cold over the last four games, with the team missing some big time attempts from the charity stripe against the Sixers on Tuesday and DeMar DeRozan missing one of his two free throws in the final minute against the Bobcats on Wednesday.

If Lowry hits more of his fourth quarter free throws against Philly, maybe the Raptors hold off the 76ers’ rally. If DeRozan makes both of his free throws with 47 seconds left last night instead of just one, the game ends up in overtime, even with the blown call on the final play.

Anyone who thinks the officiating alone is the reason the Raptors are 3-9 right now is delusional, and is giving this team too much credit. But having said that, anyone who has watched the Raptors play this season and still thinks the officiating hasn’t contributed to the poor start at all is just as delusional.

The refs make an indelible impact on each and every game, and for the most part, the Raptors have been on the wrong end of that impact so far this season. That’s not an excuse for the team’s disappointing record. It’s just an easily observable fact.

Comments (17)

  1. I’m glad I’m not the only one who thinks this way. Not going as far as saying there’s a conspiracy against the Raptors, but it’s blatantly obvious that our players don’t get as much love, if any, as other teams.

    Must be cuz we’re Canadian, Eh?

  2. Gonna be awesome when OKC drafts a top talent with the 5th or 6th overall pick.

  3. we have been on the road an awful lot already this season. Maybe its more of a home team vs away team thing.

    • That’s definitely an understated aspect of the discrepancy along with Lowry being hurt for most of the first 12 games and the team really not having any consistent slashers in the line-up outside of DeRozan.

  4. We can talk about this all day, but the fact is the Raptors lost these games on their own. I agree they have been getting hosed by the refs, but you can’t win in the NBA by playing three quarters and then completely collapsing and hoping to coast to a win. Derozan and Bargnani were both fouled last night, but the refs got it right… Watch that last posession over and over and tell me they don’t look ridiculous. Derozan was shooting the ball “hoping” to get fouled, that’s why he missed. Calderone AND Bragnani also had a shot to win the game…. that’s Toronto’s 3 best shooter’s (well pretty close) with a chance to close out the game with one shot, in the SAME POSSESION none the less. How many game winning shots have Derozan, Calderon, and Barganani made in their careers? I’m fine with the non call, I’m not fine with this team, period. Colangelo has to go. He’s failed miserably, over and over and over. I’m so fucking pissed with this franchise!

  5. Fact is, basketball is the hardest sport to officiate,and as a result has the worst quality refereeing. Worse than the other major sports. It will always be like that. The other thing that pisses me off is reputation calls. A foul is a foul. It doesnt matter if its committed by amir johnson or lebron james. Same thing if one of those players are fouled. People in the media talk about like reputation calls are a fact. Im not denying its true in reality but it takes a away a TON of credibility from NBA officiating and competititive balance within the game.

    • Basketball has the worst officiating? Are you kidding me? How are you basing that? The NBA is probably the hardest league to officiate, but it doesn’t mean the refs are bad. It just means that people will always gripe about calls made and not made.

      Instead of complaining about the refs, Raptor fans should be complaining about the fact that Colangelo decided to have an “accelerated rebuild” and try and make the playoffs with a team that simply wasn’t good enough.

      • Will you relax? His points are valid.

        In a year that saw some truly horrible officiating across all major sports in North America, nobody is stepping beyond their bounds in questioning the integrity of the officiating in the NBA or any other sport for that matter – it’s clearly a problem and any sane person can see it.

        • Relax? I wasn’t aware I wasn’t relaxed.

          And NBA officials are some of the most heavily scrutinized in professional sports, thanks in part to Mark Cuban.

          The big problem is that basketball is a sport that, if they called everything, would slow to a glacial pace and be no fun to watch. So referees use their judgement about what to call and what not to call. Because of that, fans can isolate certain calls or non-calls and cry foul.

          And I think there’s a difference between human error and questioning someone’s integrity. It seems people forget that.

      • Oh, I never said the refs are to blame for the raptors losses. BC has built a terrible roster lacking talent. Just how fucked up the officiating in the NBA is. Again though, since the raps dont have the stars they dont get the calls. Sounds pretty fucked up for a league that is supposed to be the best competitive league in the world for the sport of basketball. Plus, I dont remember any donaghys surfacing in other sports if you want to talk about officiating integrity for the nba.

        • Donaghy was one person and the fact that he was exposed means that the NBA is probably more vigilant than other sports because of the incident. Kind of like how the safest time to fly is after a terrorist attack.

          Have you watched officiating for other basketball leagues? The NBA officiating is pretty damn good. Basketball is a difficult sport to officiate and the NBA, with faster, stronger and more athletic players than other leagues, is probably the hardest league to officiate.

  6. A couple questions. Do the Raptors have a “somebody” yet?
    You have to earn the respect of the refs. Three shots were taken in the dying seconds, and there was talk of every one of those shots being a foul. Someone has to man up and take the game winning shot, with contact. Period. and force the guy to wrestle them to the ground. I’m not saying that the refs made the right call, but when no one respects you, you have to prove you can win throughout adversity. The refs do not win games. how many times has Kobe taken a shot and got hit and still got it to go? Keep working hard Raptors! Your defence will take you far, the Indiana game was clear evidence that we have players that can get it done even when they’re on the second of a back to back, and losing every game. Keep fighting, and I like this Valencunis character.

  7. The reason the Raptors record is currently 3-9 has very little to do with officiating and pretty much everything to do with the lack of talent on the team and poor defenders playing so many minutes, especially in crunchtime.

    As for the “non-call” on Bargnani, it’s debatable whether it was even a foul. I’d never call something like that, personally. Plus, there’s the whole “the hand is part of the ball” thing.

    Could more calls be made for guys like DeRozan? Sure. But teams generally earn the respect of officials and the Raptors simply haven’t done that. On offense or defense. The harder a team works on defense the less likely refs are going to call tickytack fouls on that end.

    • Its so debatable whether it was actually a foul that the NBA came out and apologized. The hand is part of the ball, the wrist is not.

      • Yes, and only in one view could you tell it was a foul. I never saw that view until it was linked in the post after the NBA admitted it was an error.

        And Joseph said this…
        “Rookie Michael Kidd-Gilchrist made contact with Andrea Bargnani’s hand right in front of a referee, who apparently shouldn’t be expected to see what’s directly in front of him.”

        If he made contact with his hand, it’s a block. He made contact with his wrist, which is obviously a foul. But Joseph didn’t say he had made contact with his wrist, hence my comment.

  8. No, they just suck

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