Kyle Kuzma could not hide his displeasure after Brooklyn’s 119-118 win over the Washington Wizards.
When asked by a reporter about the controversial late-game play in which Nets assistant David Vanterpool reached out and deflected a pass intended for Kuzma out of bounds for a turnover, the 26-year-old forward did not hold back.
“That was also horses–t too,” Kuzma said.
The interference was not seen by referees, in part because several members of Brooklyn’s coaching staff were standing up on the sidelines, a move that also caught Kuzma’s ire.
“Coaches should not be able to stand up,” he said, later adding, “You’ve got Steve Nash blocking the ref’s view. He can’t see s–t.”
Kuzma made the distinction in his comments between the final two minutes of a game, when “everybody in the league stands up,” and this play occurring with 5:42 remaining in the contest.
Officially, NBA rules state, “It is permissible for assistant coaches stand up at times, if they are given defensive or offensive responsibilities which necessitate them doing so.”
However, had the official seen Vanterpool touching the live ball, he would have awarded the Wizards the ball and may have even assessed a technical foul, either of which would have been crucial in what was then a six-point game.
Acting Wizards coach Joseph Blair said after the game he was in “utter disbelief” over the missed call.
“I’ve never seen, in my very long time in basketball, something happen like that that the referees didn’t see,” Blair said.
After the game, the official’s crew chief, Ben Taylor, told a pool reporter that “there wasn’t a mechanism in place” to review the call in the moment.
The blown call would’ve likely been soon forgotten had Kuzma’s go-ahead three with five seconds to play fallen, or the ensuing attempt by teammate Spencer Dinwiddie.
Instead, the Wizards fell to 23-22 and hold just a half-game lead for the 8th seed currently in the Eastern Conference standings. The Nets, meanwhile, moved to within a half game of a tie for the No. 1 seed at 28-16.