Following a devastating 104-87 loss to the San Antonio Spurs in Game 5 of the NBA Finals, Dwyane Wade and the Miami Heat pointed to a pivotal moment in the game that allowed the Spurs to hoist the Larry O'Brien trophy.
Already trailing by double figures in the second half, Wade stepped to the line for what he called two "critical" free throws. After clanking the first one off the back iron, Wade was seen shaking his wrist and then glaring at official Ken Mauer. As he saw his second free throw falling off the rim, Wade wildly flailed both of his arms and jerked his head back as though he'd been shot, leading to a heated discussion with referee Scott Foster.
"We're not making excuses or nothin, but the refs gotta call that. I mean, I'm not the type of guy to embellish any kind of contact; I was basically mauled shooting that free throw. But yeah, no excuses," said Wade. "If the refs make the call like they should have, that would've been five fouls on Kawhi [Leonard] and could've changed the whole game. Mario [Chalmers] sucked too. But we don't make excuses."
Video replay confirmed that no player was within 5 feet of Wade, and Leonard was underneath the basket in rebounding position, nowhere near Wade.
Asked whether he thought the Heat were simply outplayed by the superior Spurs, Wade added, "No, I thought we were the better team, the aggressors. I thought we took it to 'em, but some bad calls here and there hurt us. We're confident that we'll take Game 6."
The always diplomatic Tim Duncan said, "I didn't really see the play. I was just trying to focus, get in rebounding position, and think about how we'll move the ball on our next possession to get a good shot. There may have been some contact, I don't know. We don't complain about calls; we just get wide-eyed and extend our arms in disbelief."
"Wade not getting that call was tough", said Heat forward LeBron James. "But I can't focus on that now. I gotta decide whether I'm gonna opt out, team up with Carmelo somewhere, try to win again with this group of guys, or go to a team in the West and play against real competition. But I haven't given it any thought, I just want to talk about the game."
When asked about the play, Spurs coach Gregg Popovich answered, "Next question."