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Rudy Gobert on controversial Celtics finish: ‘I’d never lose a jump ball to Grant Williams’

Grant Williams clings to the ball while Rudy Gobert tries to get his hands on it on Wednesday night in Minneapolis.Bruce Kluckhohn/Associated Press

According to NBA rules, a jump ball can’t be tapped until it reaches its highest point.

So, when 6-6 Grant Williams beat out 7-1 Rudy Gobert for a key jump ball in the waning seconds of the Celtics’ 104-102 win over Minnesota on Wednesday night, there was some controversy.

It appeared that the ball was still going up when Williams tapped it.

Gobert told reporters after the game that he thought it was a steal, instead of a properly played jump ball.

“I think he stole the ball,” Gobert said. “I would never lose a jump ball to Grant Williams, with all due respect. I mean, if I do, it’s really on me. But I didn’t. Completely stole the ball, and I don’t know what happened with that situation.”


Williams admitted that some would say he stole it, but also joked that he got a “good jump” on the ball.

“I was trying to jump inside-hand and try to smack it towards the corner because no one was there,” Williams said. “I was like, ‘Time will fly, clock will run’ … Even my head, if you look at it my head was at Rudy’s elbow the entire time. It was funny.”

Williams tapped the ball to the corner, where Jayson Tatum recovered it. Coach Joe Mazzulla tried to call a time out, but didn’t get it. Anthony Edwards and Kyle Anderson were both ejected after talking to the officials.

Tatum hit a pair of free-throws with 1.1 seconds remaining to secure the Celtics win.

“That was a big-time play,” Mazzulla said after the game.

The play is a positive step for Williams, whose minutes have been sliding recently. He played a combined 20 minutes during the Celtics’ previous two games against Houston and Portland.


Williams logged 26 minutes against Minnesota, grabbing four rebounds and scoring two points on 1-5 shooting.

Read more: The Celtics have 12 games left in the regular season. Is the No. 1 seed in the East in reach?