NBA says refs made correct call on Miller shot


Nov 11

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A day later, Brad Miller’s game winner against the Denver Nuggets still was not.

Forget the Bulls. Brad just can’t get a break. First Rajon Rondo in the playoffs, and now this.

I dealt with this in detail in my postgame column (it’s not a blog!) after the game, and even as Nuggets coach George Karl continued to offer inaccurate information Wednesday and say he could have protested the call if the Bulls were declared winners, the referees agreed they had a conclusive view the ball was still in Miller’s hand as the game ended.

I spoke Wednesday with NBA communications vice president Tim Frank, who said the league was satisfied the correct call was made.

“Everything was done by the book,” said Frank. “The (video) truck informed (lead referee) Mark (Wunderlich) they had one additional angle, and so he asked to review that, and it ended up being the overhead shot, which ended up being the conclusive angle. Once he saw that, he was able to make his decision.”

Why it became the final look was not clear. The timing was just under five minutes, not almost 10 as originally thought, and the NBA rule book does state review should last two minutes. But the NBA generally waives that for end of game situations to determine a final result. After all, why have review if you limit yourself to a time when the game is over one way or the other? Also, there was some question about whether the clock was properly set at six tenths of a second after Kirk Hinrich fouled Chauncey Billups before Billups purposely missed that second free throw. But under NBA replay rules, that is not reviewable. Only the final play.

The way the clock timing works is the official scorer assigned by the team and the referee can both start and stop the clock. Whichever starts it first becomes the official start and stop to avoid home scorekeepers adding more time to a clock as happened a few times in Atlanta in recent years.

Karl Wednesday continued to say the NBA rule book prohibits a player from catching the ball, turning as Miller did and making a shot with three tenths of a second. There is no such thing in any NBA rule book. You can catch and shoot in three tenths of a second as long as you beat the clock. You have to tip the ball in less time than that.

The officials are required by rule to examine by replay any last second basket like that at only the end of each quarter. Frank said the officials went through all the available views with TV and video and then asked if there were more available. They were told there was another from overhead and that was the conclusive one, Frank said.

So, according to the NBA, there was no such situation to allow the play to stand as originally called (the shot by Miller was good) because there was conclusive evidence it was not good because it had not yet left Miller’s fingers.

The NBA did seem to err in allowing this to linger for so long. The referees were asked by media members after the game to offer an explanation of what occurred and how they came to their decision. They declined, saying only it is a judgment call. That left it open to interpretation and conspiracy theories, and in light of the Tim Donaghy referee/gambling issues, the NBA promised a transparent process on officiating and controversial calls. That wasn’t the case after Tuesday’s game. The hope is the NBA moves to continue to open the process.

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