Nikola Jokic appears to get away with foul on Zion Williamson to save Nuggets’ win over Pelicans

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Some players are just impossible to officiate properly. They are so physically dominant that, in theory, a foul could be called on them on virtually any possession. There was simply no other way to defend players like Shaquille O’Neal than to just foul on every possession. That is where Zion Williamson is now. The New Orleans Pelicans forward lives in the paint, but if he went to the line every time he was fouled, he’d be shooting 20 free throws per night.

As it stands, he takes 8.6 per game, and none of them came on the biggest play of Wednesday night’s loss to the Denver Nuggets. With the Pelicans down two, Williamson went up for a game-tying layup attempt in the final seconds. Nikola Jokic seemingly fouled him, yet no whistle came. The Nuggets escaped with a 114-112 victory.

Jokic can sadly relate to Williamson in this regard. He has dealt with questionable officiating all season, and recently, he and his coach have drawn a string of technical fouls for pointing it out. Jokic attempts only 5.1 free throws per game, far fewer than Williamson. 

But it’s hard to deny the contact that came on this play. Jokic may not get enough calls, but he got a break on this one, and Williamson was punished for it. Maybe someday the officials will learn how to handle unique offensive forces like Zion, but sadly, they missed a game-changing call in this game.

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