Referee Ed Malloy Admits Jalen Brunson Did Not Commit Foul in Wild Knicks vs Rockets Ending

Referee Ed Malloy Admits Jalen Brunson Did Not Commit Foul in Wild Knicks vs Rockets Ending article feature image

Carmen Mandato/Getty Images. Pictured: Jalen Brunson #11 of the New York Knicks and Charlie Brown Jr. #44 walk off the court after losing to the Houston Rockets 105-103 at Toyota Center.

When referees need to make a statement at the end of an NBA, it usually means there was a controversial call that needed to be addressed and that is true of NBA referee Ed Malloy after a wild ending in Houston.

The Knicks suffered a stunning loss at the end of their game against the Rockets after Jalen Brunson was called for a foul with the two teams tied at 103-103.

The Knicks made a furious comeback twice in the game after trailing by 16 points in the first half and 11 in the fourth quarter. Brunson hit a 14-foot jumper with eight seconds left in the game and the Knicks appeared to defend the Rockets well enough on the final play of regulation to force overtime.

Foul called on Jalen Brunson while Rockets shoot a 3 towards end of the 4th QT (Game score: 103-103).

— 3030 (@jose3030) February 13, 2024

However, officials thought there was enough contact to call the foul live on the floor. Aaron Holiday was awarded three free throws with 0.3 seconds left and made two of the three to put the Rockets up by two and effectively sealed the game. After the game, Knicks beat writer Fred Katz of the Athletic conducted a pool report with Malloy to discuss the call:

QUESTION:  Why was there a shooting foul called on Jalen Brunson against Aaron Holiday on the Rockets’ final possession of the game?

MALLOY: In live action it was felt that the lower body contact was illegal contact.

QUESTION: After seeing the replay, do officials believe it was the correct call?

MALLOY:  After seeing it during postgame review, the offensive player was able to return to a normal playing position on the floor. The contact which occurred after the release of the ball therefore is incidental and marginal to the shot attempt and should not have been called.

Malloy's public mea culpa won't make Knicks players, or the coach very happy at all. After the game, according to Katz, Knicks head coach Tom Thibodeau and Brunson did everything they could to avoid getting a fine by voicing their frustration with the missed call.

Tom Thibodeau on if he thought that was a foul on Brunson: "You saw it."

Thibs on what he thought of the officiating tonight: "It was great. Great."

— Fred Katz (@FredKatz) February 13, 2024

Jalen Brunson fielded three questions about the foul to end the game. Each time, he had the same four-word response:

"Great call. Next question."

— Fred Katz (@FredKatz) February 13, 2024

Knicks bettors certainly won't find comfort in Malloy's statement either since the free throws directly impacted both spread and moneyline bets.

The spread closed at Rockets -1 at most sportsbooks Monday and the Knicks drew 52% of the betting tickets and 58% of the money bet on the spread in the game, according to Action Network's betting data. They had an even greater share of the bets on the moneyline with 71% of the tickets and 81% of the money landing on the Knicks.

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