Getty Images

Everyone is going to remember Luka Doncic's game-winning 3-pointer in the closing seconds of Game 2 to give the Dallas Mavericks a commanding 2-0 conference finals lead over Minnesota as the series heads to Dallas for Games 3 and 4. What fewer people will remember is what happened 44 seconds earlier, when the Mavericks, trailing by two with 47 seconds to play, were awarded a crucial possession via a replay overturn of an out-of bounds call. 

As it happened, Minnesota was initially awarded possession, but Dallas challenged the ruling, contending that the ball was last touched by Jaden McDaniels. Dallas won the challenge as the ball had indeed gone off McDaniels last, but the missing context is that Kyrie Irving clearly fouled McDaniels, slapping down on his forearm to dislodge the ball off McDaniels' fingertips and out of bounds. 

Here, see for yourself.

OK, so Irving clearly fouled McDaniels, but that's not reviewable given that it wasn't the original call on the court. The letter of the law states that the only action that can be reviewed is who actually touched the ball last, as that was the call in dispute. Irving could have taken a hatchet to McDaniels' arm and if the ball last trickled off of McDaniels' bloody nerve endings, well, tough luck. Dallas ball. 

Here's the pool report with crew chief Zach Zarba from Friday night:

QUESTION: During the review that resulted in the turnover on Jaden McDaniels late in the game can you explain if you also saw a foul that should have been called at that point?

ZARBA: During the game we felt it was a normal out of bounds play and that's what was ruled. Obviously, it gets challenged and the replay center overturns it because it last touched McDaniels. Postgame review we did see illegal contact from (Kyrie) Irving to the forearm of McDaniels that should have been called a foul.

QUESTION: Just to clarify now, at that point Dallas has challenged the play, there is no way Minnesota can then challenge that call to say the ball went out of bounds because he got fouled?

ZARBA: Correct. Per NBA rules you can't challenge the no call on the foul in that case.

QUESTION: Could Minnesota have challenged it earlier to say he got fouled instead of the ball coming out of bounds if they had beaten them to the challenge or is that not challengeable?

ZARBA: No, you can't challenge a no call and the ball was awarded initially to Minnesota, so you're not going to challenge an out of bounds awarded to you.

What we have here is an absolutely ridiculous rule that may very well have cost Minnesota this game, and possibly this series -- and possibly a shot at the franchise's first championship. It was that crucial. If that is correctly ruled on the floor, McDaniels is heading to the free-throw line with 47 seconds to play with a chance to give Minnesota a 4-point lead. Instead, Dallas gets the ball down by 2 points, and the next basket that was made was Luka Doncic's game-winning 3-pointer. 

This is very simple: You go to the replay monitor to get the call right. Plain and simple. The fact that you can only use part of the visual information provided is lunacy. The league will tell you it doesn't want a bunch of replays of non-calls on the court ruining the flow of the game. That doesn't hold water. Teams have a fixed number of challenges allowed to them. Use them as you will. It takes the same amount of time to look if a player was fouled as it does to see if a player wasn't fouled. This is simple stuff.

Also, play was stopped anyway! Even if you don't make non-calls reviewable, it is only logical that if the officials are already at the monitor reviewing something that is within the letter of the replay rules and see something that directly impacts the ruling on the floor, they should have the power to make the correct call. 

The WNBA understands this, so I'm not sure why the NBA doesn't.

From the WNBA's official rule book:

The officials may award the ball to the team that last touched the ball if the ball going out of bounds was clearly caused by an obvious foul on the team that did not last touch the ball. No foul will be assessed.

And there you have it. Basic logic. The NBA may change this rule moving forward, and in fact I would be surprised if the league didn't. But it should not have required a call like the one that burned the Timberwolves and potentially swung a conference finals to happen before the NBA rulemakers do so. It was pretty easy to forecast something like this happening at this stage of a game this big with a call this obvious. 

That does Minnesota absolutely no good. Irving fouled McDaniels, who should have been shooting two free throws with a chance to stretch Minnesota's lead with under a minute to play, and instead the Mavericks got the ball down by two and won the game on a 3-pointer 44 seconds later. 

This is inexcusable negligence on the part of the NBA to not have rectified this illogical application of a replay rule before a situation like this happened. If the WNBA gets it, so should the NBA.