What is basket interference? Explaining controversial call on Karl-Anthony Towns in Timberwolves' loss to Mavericks

what is basket interference? explaining controversial call on karl-anthony towns in timberwolves' loss to mavericks

The Timberwolves and Mavericks delivered a thrilling start to the Western Conference Finals. But the ending of Game 1 did not come without its controversy.

Minnesota, trailing by two points with less than two minutes remaining, appeared to tie the game when Karl-Anthony Towns slammed home a putback dunk on a missed field goal attempt. But officials ruled basket interference and took the basket off the board.

Another opportunity to tie the game came on the next possession after a traveling call on Dallas' Dereck Lively, but Minnesota's Mike Conley turned the ball over. Luka Doncic buried a jumper to put the Mavericks up four with 49 seconds left, giving the team a comfortable advantage down the stretch.

Dallas went on to win, 108-105, after Conley intentionally missed a free throw at the end of the game with the aim of setting up a 3-point shot for another Timberwolves player. The ball did not get back to one of his teammates in time for Minnesota to get a shot up.

Why was a basket interference penalty called on Towns? Here's what you need to know.

MORE: Why the perfect Anthony Edwards comparison isn't Michael Jordan

What is basket interference?

Basket interference is another word for goaltending. The rule is most often called against defensive players attempting to block a shot. But it can be called against offensive players, as in this case.

Officials, even upon further review, deemed that the initial shot from Minnesota still had a chance to score, which brought Towns' putback attempt into conflict with the following aspect of the rule:

Touch any ball from within the playing area when it is above the basket ring and within the imaginary cylinder.

MORE: NBA goaltending rules, explained

Offensive goaltending is rarely called. The shot Wednesday appeared to be leaving area of the rim, though it could have had a chance to hit the rim again on the way down, making it a close call for the referees.

Towns had plenty of other opportunities to score in the game. He went 6-for-20 in the Game 1 defeat, including just 2-for-9 from 3-point range, and finished with 16 points, seven rebounds and two assists.

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