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Incorrect foul call on Jalen Brunson brings controversy to Knicks-Rockets final, draws ire of Tom Thibodeau

The ending of a regular-season game between the Knicks and Rockets is now mired in controversy thanks to an incorrect foul call late in regulation.

With the game tied at 103, Rockets guard Aaron Holiday corralled a blocked shot well beyond the 3-point line. As Holiday attempted a one-handed desperation heave with under a second remaining, Knicks guard Jalen Brunson was whistled for a foul as he attempted to contest the 3-point shot, drawing the ire of the Knicks contingent.

Because New York used its coach’s challenge earlier in the game, head coach Tom Thibodeau could not challenge the call and the play stood as it was called on the floor, meaning Holiday would shoot three free throws with 0.3 seconds on the clock.

Holiday made the first two free throws before intentionally missing the third shot so New York could not rebound the miss and call a timeout without time expiring, though it did try.

The final visual, which summed up the Knicks’ frustrations, depicts Thibodeau attempting to draw up a play while Crew Chief Ed Malloy declared the game was over.

With the game officially over, Thibodeau and assistant coach Rick Brunson both approached the officiating crew at halfcourt and needed to be restrained.

Rick Brunson, the father of Jalen Brunson, also attempted to restrain his son but ultimately Jalen approached half court to greet Rockets forward Dillon Brooks.

And while cooler heads prevailed on the floor, frustrations seeped into the postgame conversation.

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What was said about controversial Jalen Brunson foul?

Knicks-Rockets officiating crew

In a pool report postgame, Malloy immediately admitted that the officiating crew got the call wrong.

Here is what Malloy said to Fred Katz of The Athletic:

After seeing it during postgame review, the offensive player was able to return to a normal playing position on the floor. The contact which occurred after the release of the ball therefore is incidental and marginal to the shot attempt and should not have been called.

The full pool report is available here.

Knicks head coach Tom Thibodeau

When asked about the officiating, Thibodeau first curtly responded, “It was great.”

Thibodeau expounded upon his feelings when asked about a technical foul he received earlier in the game, stating that his main issue is with the consistency of the officials.

“This is the way I feel about that in general: I don’t really care how tight the game is called. You can call it tight or you can call it loose, I just would like the consistency to be the same,” said Thibodeau.

“They have a job. They have to control and manage the game — that’s their No. 1 responsibility, so they have to use their judgment and I have respect for that. It didn’t go our way tonight.”

Knicks guard Jalen Brunson

According to Katz, Brunson was asked three different questions about the foul called at the end of the game, to which he provided the same response: “Great call. Next question.”

Knicks respond on social media

Frustrations made it past the podium as some Knicks players took to social media to share their responses.

Forward Precious Achiuwa posted “Nasty work” with a facepalm emoji to X while guard Josh Hard posted “No way bro” with five crying laughing emojis.

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