76ers’ Kelly Oubre Jr. confronts officials after missed call on final play in loss to Clippers

Callie Lawson-Freeman

The Philadelphia 76ers took a 108-107 loss to the Los Angeles Clippers Wednesday night in a thrilling finish that provided plenty of controversy.

Kawhi Leonard took over for the Clippers with a pair of 3-point plays in the final minute of the nail-biter, adding a crucial block on the last possession. His heroics were somewhat overshadowed in the last moments, as 76ers guard Kelly Oubre Jr.‘s potentially game-saving drive was fumbled by officials.

Down one point, Oubre drove to the basket before time expired in regulation. Before he was rejected at the rim by Leonard, he appeared to get fouled by Paul George. The referees didn’t act in the moment and the buzzer sounded without Oubre getting a chance at the free throw line.

Enraged by the call, 76ers head coach Nick Nurse rushed to the court and had to be held back by other team personnel. He wasn’t alone, as Oubre took the opportunity to point at each official and deliver a message.

“You’re a b*tch. You’re a b*tch. You’re a b*tch,” Oubre said to the referees before he was also pulled away.

Nurse was candid with his opinion when he addressed reporters postgame:

I think he took it in there pretty hard, right?” he said. “I looked at it on our computer screen a couple times. I thought there was certainly contact. Certainly as much as the last two or three that got called and-1’s at the other end. And that’s all. I just thought it was enough contact to call. But that’s the way it goes sometimes.”

Oubre expressed a similar sentiment as he disagreed with the call but apologized for his outburst.

“I want to apologize for just losing my cool, because that’s something I try to work on each and every day, and try to represent God in the best way I possibly can, and that wasn’t it. I just ask for forgiveness,” the 28-year-old said. “It wasn’t cool, so I’ll take whatever penalties come with that.”

For what it’s worth, officials admitted they missed the call after the game.

“On the last play on the floor, in real time the crew interpreted that play as the defender jumping vertically. However, in post-game video review we did observe some slight drift to his left by the defender George, and a foul should have been ruled,” NBA referee Kevin Scott said in a pool report via Keith Pompey of the Philadelphia inquirer.

PHILADELPHIA, PENNSYLVANIA - MARCH 27: Kelly Oubre Jr. #9 of the Philadelphia 76ers shoots a lay up past Kawhi Leonard #2 of the LA Clippers during the fourth quarter at the Wells Fargo Center on March 27, 2024 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images)

Kelly Oubre Jr. of the Philadelphia 76ers almost overcame Kawhi Leonard’s heroics. (Photo by Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images)

Oubre expressed discontent with a separate instance where he thought he was fouled by Leonard on a late drive to the basket. Scott disagreed, adding that “Leonard was in a legal guarding position,” which led to a jump ball.

It was part of a second-half comeback for Leonard, which saw him improve from shooting 1 for 8 early to record 17 points 10 rebounds. Philadelphia was led by Tyrese Maxey‘s 26 points, while Oubre scored 17.

The game had no shortage of storylines, as former 76er James Harden was by booed at Wells Fargo Center when he was introduced with the Clippers. It was his return to the arena after arriving to Los Angeles via a long-awaited trade from Philadelphia.

The local fans didn’t stop with Harden’s introduction, heckling him whenever the ball came his way. He recorded 16 points and five rebounds in front of the hostile crowd. He and the Clippers previously hosted his former team Sunday, taking a 121-107 loss.

After the game, Harden said that he doesn’t have plans to reconcile with 76ers president of basketball operations Daryl Morey. He didn’t express concern about how he was received by fans, either.

“If you ask them, they probably don’t know why they were booing,” Harden said.