(USA Today) -- Referees should have called Atlanta Hawks forward Dahntay Jones for a foul on Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant in the final seconds of Atlanta's victory Wednesday, the NBA announced Thursday.
With five seconds remaining and the Lakers trailing 94-92 in the fourth quarter, Bryant took a 18-foot fadeaway baseline jumper and missed. With Jones putting pressure on the shot, Bryant landed on Jones' foot with 4.9 seconds left and sustained a severely sprained left ankle. He is out indefinitely, hurting the Lakers' playoff chances.
Before the 2011-12 season, the NBA issued its points of emphasis for referees and players, and one of those points was directed at a defender's responsibility on jump shots. The NBA said a defender cannot get into the landing area of the airborne shooter, and airborne shooters must be allowed the opportunity to return the floor safely.
Jones violated that edict.
"After review at the league office, video replay confirmed that referees missed a foul call on Jones as he challenged Bryant's shot and did not give him the opportunity to land cleanly back on the floor. Bryant should have been granted two free throws," the NBA posted on NBA.com/official.
Had a foul been called Bryant would have had two free throws and a chance to tie the game. The Lakers lost and fell to 34-32 in the Western Conference. But they remained in eighth place, 1/2-game ahead of the Utah Jazz for the final playoff spot in the West.
Since the game ended, Bryant has complained about the play on Twitter several times.
On SiriusXM's Mad Dog Radio, Jones defended his actions and said he doesn't think Bryant landed on his ankle.
"We went in the locker room and looked at it and when we looked at it from three different angles it looked as if he came down on the floor but my foot was behind where he came down on," Jones told host Adam Schein. "And I didn't feel him come down on my ankle so I never thought he came down on my foot. And usually when shooters come down on your foot they come down on the top of your foot and that's how they roll (their) ankle. So I felt bad.
"That's why I kept looking at the play to make sure I didn't do anything wrong. And I wasn't trying to walk up under him. I was trying to contest the jump shot and my job as a defender is to make people uncomfortable and to challenge shots."
Jones also said he didn't do anything intentionally.
"I didn't try to do anything to hurt him," Jones said. "I have too much respect for him to try to hurt him."