NBA: No infraction when Conley ended up on the floor late in Grizzlies' loss to Bulls

Instead, league says Grizz center Jonas Valanciunas committed a foul

By Updated: February 28, 2019 5:37 PM CT | Published: February 28, 2019 4:54 PM CT

Contrary to Grizzlies coach J.B. Bickerstaff’s opinion, the NBA said Thursday the officiating crew was correct in not calling a foul in favor of Mike Conley when the Memphis guard was knocked to the floor in the closing seconds of Wednesday’s loss to the Chicago Bulls.

Instead, the league’s "Last Two Minute Report" said that on the same inbounds play, officials missed calling a foul on Grizzlies center Jonas Valanciunas for a moving screen.

The play led to a scathing postgame complaint from Bickerstaff, who said Conley gets no respect from league referees and the play in question was additional proof of a matter about which the team has complained all year.

''Clear as day, center of the floor, Mike Conley gets tackled,'' Bickerstaff said, later saying the lack of calls in Conley’s favor “is maddening.”

Here's the play shown during the Grizzlies postgame show:

With 17.4 seconds left and trailing 106-102, the Grizzlies were inbounding the ball near midcourt . As center Jonas Valanciunas set a screen to try and free Conley, Bulls guard Kris Dunn fought through Valanciunas. During the scramble, Conley fell to the floor just as the ball was thrown in. The pass sailed past the prone Conley and went out of bounds on the other side of the court, the turnover giving the Bulls the ball and eventually the win, 109-107.

In its "Last Two Minute Report" released Thursday afternoon, the league not only ruled the play on Conley a correct no-call, but said officials incorrectly did not call a foul on Valancius for a moving screen against Dunn.

The report states that views of the play “show that Valanciunas (MEM) initially establishes a legal screening position in Dunn's (CHI) path, but then continues to reestablish his position and delivers contact that dislodges Dunn.”

That lack of illegal screen call, in part, led to no whistles blown when Conley went to the floor, a play the league characterized as a correct no-call.

“The illegal contact by Valanciunas (MEM) dislodges Dunn (CHI) into Conley (MEM), causing him to lose his balance,” the report states.

The lack of call that led to Conley ending up on the floor unable to catch the inbounds pass, fueled a long-held contention by Bickerstaff that Conley doesn’t get the respect he deserves from NBA officials. His postgame press conference lasted about four minutes and dealt strictly with the play and how Conley is treated.

''This season we've had the same conversation about Mike Conley and nothing has changed,'' Bickerstaff said, later adding: ''I don't know how far we have to go to get results. I'm trying to be respectful of the process. We've done that all year, and it's led to absolutely nothing. It's led to no change.'' Bickerstaff went on to emphasize that a player like Conley is the kind of person the league should want to promote. ''He's not the type of person you want to continually disrespect.''

Bickerstaff said he’s gotten technical fouls this season arguing for his veteran point guard. The team has talked to the league, sat with officials to discuss contact with Conley in games and the Memphis coach said nothing he or the organization has done has helped the matter.

“It’s insulting," Bickerstaff said, "that I have to sit up here and have this conversation at this point in the season — at this point in (Conley's) career. …At some point in time, somebody should show him the respect, the common courtesy to allow him to be treated the way that the rest of the league is treated.

"We’re not asking for more. That’s the thing about it. We’re not asking for him to be treated differently. We just want him to get his due.”

There was no information Thursday on whether Bickerstaff has changed his position after a night's sleep and the report on the series of events with 17.4 seconds left.

And, despite his comments, the league had not imposed any fine on Bickerstaff Thursday evening for his criticism of officials.


NBA Mike Conley Last Two Minute Report Kris Dunn J.B. Bickerstaff
Clay Bailey

Clay Bailey

Clay Bailey, a lifelong Memphian, has worked as a reporter in the city almost four decades. He concentrated on suburban coverage. He also is a freelance sportswriter for the Associated Press.

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