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Pacers coach Rick Carlisle criticizes refs after Game 2 ejection in loss to Knicks: ‘Small market teams deserve an equal shot’

Officiating again became a point of contention at the end of Game 2 between the Knicks and Pacers.

Indiana coach Rick Carlisle wasn’t having it.

Shortly after he was ejected with 33.2 seconds left in Wednesday’s 130-121 loss to the Knicks, Carlisle lamented what he described as inequitable refereeing across the second-round playoff series’ first two games.

“Small market teams deserve an equal shot,” Carlisle said during his postgame press conference at Madison Square Garden. “They deserve a fair shot, no matter where they’re playing.”

Carlisle became irate Wednesday after a double-dribble call against Knicks center Isaiah Hartenstein with 1:19 left in the fourth quarter was overturned following a meeting between the refs.

An animated Carlisle received a technical foul during a timeout with 41.1 seconds left in the game, then drew another with at the 33.2-second mark, resulting in his ejection.

Afterward, Carlisle began his press conference with a nearly three-minute opening remark about the officiating. Among his gripes were that Josh Hart’s third-quarter contact with Pacers star Tyrese Haliburton didn’t yield a foul call.

“The whole world knows Haliburton’s got a bad back, and Hart comes up and shoves him in the back,” Carlisle said. “It’s all over Twitter right now, because a few people have shown it to me. [Referee] JB DeRosa is looking right at it.”

Wednesday’s controversial finish came two days after a Game 1 in which Pacers guard Aaron Nesmith got called for a kicked ball on a play he deflected the ball with his hand. The game was tied, 115-115, with 52.1 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter at the time. The NBA’s Last 2 Minutes Report deemed the call incorrect.

Game 1 also saw Pacers center Myles Turner get called for a moving screen with 12.1 seconds remaining and Indiana down by a point in its eventual 121-117 loss.

On Wednesday, Carlisle said the Pacers’ review of Game 1 found 29 calls they believed were made incorrectly. He decided not to submit them to the league — a complaint the Knicks would be able to see — because he felt like Indiana would :get a more balanced whistle” in Game 2.

“It didn’t feel that way,” Carlisle said afterward.

“I can promise you that we’re gonna submit [Wednesday’s missed calls] tonight,” he said. “New York can get ready. They’ll see them, too. I’m always talking to our guys about not making it about the officials, but we deserve a fair shot. There’s not a consistent balance, and that’s disappointing.”

Haliburton, meanwhile, downplayed Hart’s shove. Asked if he felt the refs had been unfair, the point guard replied, “That’s not my job.”

“At the end of the day, we got outplayed,” Haliburton said. “We were right there to win the game. Would I like more consistency? Yeah, but let’s not pretend like that’s the only reason we lost.”

He continued, “I don’t think [Hartenstein] double-dribbled, but if you can overturn that call, why can’t you overturn the kicked ball [in Game 1]? I don’t really understand that, but like I said, they outplayed us.”

Backup point guard T.J. McConnell shared a similar sentiment.

“We love Rick showing that type of energy on the court,” McConnell said. “Unfortunate that he got ejected, but that’s not the feeling that we have in the locker room. We’re not going to sit here and blame officials. We’ve got to be better.”


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