Monty McCutchen — and "reffing the defense" — may have saved the Lakers season
Trailing by a point with 42 seconds to go, the Lakers got a huge break vs. Golden State April 12. Dwight Howard set an obvious, bone-crushing, shoulder-thrust moving pick on Stephen Curry. Ref Monty McCutchen, staring at the play, called a foul on Curry for grabbing Steve Blake as Curry tried to get around or through the illegal screen. Blake hit the two free throws, so the Warriors got the ball back trailing by one rather than leading by one. A lot can happen in 42 seconds, so it was hardly a cinch that Golden State would have won if the correct call had been made. Alas, it would have been a shocker if the ref got it right, and not because the game was in L.A. Here's why: No matter how many times the disastrous David Stern-Stu Jackson administration makes moving picks an officiating "point of emphasis," it continues to be one of the most frequently missed calls, right up there with palming and traveling.
Perhaps the hoop gods were getting back at Warriors coach Mark Jackson, who loves to play Hack-a-Dwight and Hack-a-DeAndre — a revolting tactic that no sane league would tolerate. Or perhaps this was a bit of "what goes around comes around" justice, as the Warriors have their own bone-crushing moving picker in Festus Ezeli (as Steve Novak knows). More likely, this was just one more piece of evidence of the stupidity of the NBA's "reffing the defense" teaching philosophy, promoted by the late Darell Garretson — a great ref with one ridiculous idea that the NBA hierarchy mistook for a brilliant idea. McCutchen and his contemporaries can never become first-rate refs until they face the fact that reffing the defense is a seriously flawed concept with limited utility.