Gobert was fined $25,000 on Friday for “public criticism of the officiating,” the league announced. Timberwolves coach Chris Finch, who also voiced his disappointment in the officials after Wednesday’s 107–100 loss to the Suns, was fined $15,000 for the same offense.
Gobert and Finch’s comments came after Minnesota, the West’s current No. 8 seed, fell to Phoenix on the road in a matchup that carried playoff implications for both teams. The pair was notably frustrated with the free throw disparity, with the Suns garnering 27 attempts (with 21 makes) to the Timberwolves’ 12 attempts (with eight makes).
“They went to the line 27 times and we went to the line 12 times. Sitting up here and talking about it must have worked for them,” Finch said as nod to Suns coach Monty Williams’s recent fine for criticizing officiating, per The Athletic. He continued, “The free throw disparity got us. I thought we were driving and playing with just as much force as they were.”
During his post-game media session, Gobert was more forthcoming with his opinion, openly blasting the officials and claiming they were trying to help the fourth-seeded Suns stay afloat in a tight playoff race.
“It’s bull----,” Gobert said, per Christopher Hine of the Star Tribune. “Bull----. It’s not fair. It’s really not fair. Every night. I’ve been in this league for 10 years and I try to always give the benefit of the doubt, but it’s hard for me to think they’re not trying to help them win tonight. It’s hard for me to think they didn’t try to help the Warriors win the other night or Sacramento Kings the other night. It’s just so obvious. As a basketball player that’s been in this league for so long, it’s disrespectful and it sucks to be honest.
“We work so hard to be in a position to compete with the best and we just get manipulated into those situations where it just impacts the game for the other team too much. They know how to do it. They do it a lot of different ways. Tonight was another way of doing it. But it’s all good. We understand that it’s also a business. Unfortunately, it’s sad, but it’s good also. It’s really good. But it’s true. We understand that we’re not the biggest of the markets and we’re a team that—I think you want to see [Kevin Durant] in the playoffs, Steph [Curry] in the playoffs, you want to see LeBron [James] in the playoffs. The Timberwolves are not there yet. We got to keep putting our head down, keep playing through that and it’s frustrating for sure, especially for me.”
As of Friday, Minnesota (39–38) sits in a tie with the Pelicans, with five regular-season games left to play. The Timberwolves, who are just one game behind the Warriors for the No. 6 seed and a guaranteed playoff spot, will next play Friday night at home against the Lakers (38–38), the No. 9 seed.