Explaining The Controversial Call From Game 5

Wednesday, May 14th 2014, 5:07 pm
By: News 9

On most occasions, an eight-point comeback in the final 49 seconds to win a pivotal playoff game would grab the headlines.

But not on Tuesday in Oklahoma City.

That's because with 16 seconds remaining, Russell Westbrook stole the ball from the sure-handed Chris Paul, and with 11.3 seconds left, Reggie Jackson lost the ball out of bounds.

But it wasn't ruled off of Reggie, despite multiple replays that indicated otherwise. And despite a boatload of questionable (or bad) calls throughout the game, all anyone wanted to talk about afterward was Jackson's near-turnover.

"They made a horrendous call," Doc Rivers said. "It was our ball. Everybody knows it was our ball. I think the bottom line is they thought it was a foul and they made up for it."

NBA Crew Chief Tony Brothers offered a statement in an attempt to shed light on the officials' ruling.

"When the ball goes out of bounds the ball was awarded to Oklahoma City. We go review the play. The two replays we saw were from the overhead camera showing down, and one from under the basket showing the same angle, but from a different view. And from those two replays, it was inconclusive as to who the ball went out of bounds off of. When it's inconclusive, we have to go with the call that was on the floor."

Rivers wasn't buying that explanation one bit.

"We got robbed because of that call," Rivers shouted as he pounded his fist against the podium. "And it's clear, everybody in the arena saw it. That's why everybody was shocked when they said Oklahoma City. That was our ball. Whether it was a foul or not, it was, but they didn't call it."

Thunder coach Scott Brooks saw it differently, explaining why he thought Jackson should have been awarded two shots.

"I saw four or five replays," Brooks said. "One of the things I know is that Reggie did get fouled. I couldn't tell who the ball was hit off of. If it's not conclusive, they have to go with what they called."

Jackson clearly had his hand slapped, but according to NBA rules, an offensive player's hand is essentially a part of the ball.

Rule No. 8, Section II of the NBA rulebook explains how officials should handle a defender slapping an offensive player's hand when he has the ball.

"If a player has his hand in contact with the ball and an opponent hits the hand causing the ball to go out-of-bounds, the team whose player had his hand on the ball will retain possession."

That's clearly the explanation that the officials went with when awarding the ball to Oklahoma City. If you look at the replays from the TV broadcast, it shows that Barnes smacked Jackson on the same hand with which he was holding the ball, just like the rule explains.

But here's where it got tricky. Jackson then lost the ball, and it appeared that the ball then caromed off of Jackson's other hand before falling out of bounds. If that indeed happened, Rule No. 8, Section II would no longer be relevant, and that's why Rivers was so upset.

"We did our own stuff, we shoulda never lost that game," Rivers admitted. "We made a comedy of errors. Having said that, we still have the right to win the game if the call says it's our ball and that didn't happen. And that's too bad for us. That could be a series-defining call, and that's not right."

It appears that Rivers has a legitimate beef on that call, but that's how it goes sometimes. Timing is everything, and had that call occurred in the second quarter, nobody would have even brought it up.

On to Game 6.