Refs gone wild: a place to complain about NBA referees and propose solutions to improving officiating

Justthetippett

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Agree with you plus it looks to me that Brunson was between the ref and the shooter so really the ref didn't have a great view of how much (or little) contact there was.

Bigger question to me is why Brunson is challenging the shot in the first place. Clock winding down, shooter is picking up a loose ball and heaving it. To me, situational awareness says that you stick your hands up in the air because a hard contest is more likely to do harm (foul) than materially alter the shot. I mean it's not like Steph Curry or Payton Pritchard were shooting the ball.
The cryptoscammer definitely makes the shot, gets the andone and steps on Thibs' loafer on his way back to the locker room.
 

kazuneko

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Wonder if there is anyway there can be an automatic review for game changing calls (maybe they could define this as a call that could lead to a score lead change in the last five seconds of a game).
 
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the moops

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Wonder if there is anyway there can be an automatic review for game changing calls (maybe they could define this as a call that could lead to a score change in the last five seconds of a game).
It just seems that if they have to review a play because it may be a shot clock violation, take a look at whether a foul was committed at the same time
 

Euclis20

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I don't think the league wants to open that particular pandora's box. These things tend to even out over the course of a regular season, but if that was the end of a playoff game...yeesh.
 

lovegtm

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It just seems that if they have to review a play because it may be a shot clock violation, take a look at whether a foul was committed at the same time
This is basically the direction the NFL ended up going when it started reviewing all scoring plays and turnovers.

It's just really tough in the NBA, since you don't get the natural stoppage that those plays produce in football.
 

Bunt Single

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Re the Brunson miscall: I appreciate the ref and the league being at least candid afterwards, in this case. I wonder if more players lately being a little more vocal in recent similar scenarios (@JB) might be encouraging this kind of response.
 

snowmanny

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Clapping, waving away, pointing…these are all T’s now? There’s really an uncomfortable “get these kids in line” vibe about all this.
 

wade boggs chicken dinner

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Devin Booker ejected for pointing at an official in the first quarter. These guys are out of control.

Sounds like he said something naughty for the 2nd T; 1st T was for continued complaining. Pool report here: https://www.azcentral.com/story/sports/nba/suns/2024/02/14/devin-booker-ejected-in-first-quarter-of-suns-pistons-game/72607754007/
Lane addressed Booker's technical fouls in a pool report after the game.
QUESTION: Why was Devin Booker assessed his first technical foul?
LANE: For continual complaining, and after he’d been warned he continued to complain again towards a game official.
QUESTION: Was it more just about the continuance of it? Or was there language involved as well that warranted it was more?
LANE: It was more about the continuance after he had been warned to stop and he continued to complain.
QUESTION: After the [second] technical foul he gets ejected, was that the continuance again for the second?
LANE: No, the second technical foul was for disparaging remarks he made towards a game official, and then he was ejected for the second one.
QUESTION: Was it the escalation that warranted the ejection early in the game?
LANE: The comment that he made met our standards and warranted the technical foul, the second technical foul which led to the ejection.
QUESTION: Did the pregame events with Drew Eubanks and Isiah Stewart, Eubanks getting punched by Stewart, did that inkling a potential for more on court tension. Did that lead to any way you guys were officiating tonight or ejecting Devin or keeping it tight early?
LANE: No, all the decisions made were based on what was going on and the merits of the game.
 

kazuneko

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Clapping, waving away, pointing…these are all T’s now? There’s really an uncomfortable “get these kids in line” vibe about all this.
Yeah, it’s ridiculous and it’s not a good look that most of these refs are white and the players they are impatiently tossing are usually black.
The NBA is going in the wrong direction with this too. This year they’ve decided to make a big deal out of hanging on the rim after a dunk, for example, something no one has ever cared about ever. Officiating is going to always be imperfect in this sport but these stupid techs and ejections compound the problem. I guess this is what Silver wants though, otherwise I’m not sure why he is seemingly okay with it.
And frankly I don’t give a shit if he used a naughty word. When’s the last time Belichick coached a football game that didn’t include him yelling an expletive at an official? Why is that okay but you can’t lift your arms in disbelief if you’re Jayson Tatum. The standard needs to change. If an NFL official can keep stony faced while focusing on the game why can’t an NBA official do the same?
 
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joe dokes

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Yeah, it’s ridiculous and it’s not a good look that most of these refs are white and the players they are impatiently tossing are usually black.
The NBA is going in the wrong direction with this too. This year they’ve decided to make a big deal out of hanging on the rim after a dunk, for example, something no one has ever cared about ever. Officiating is going to always be imperfect in this sport but these stupid techs and ejections compound the problem. I guess this is what Silver wants though, otherwise I’m not sure why he is seemingly okay with it.
And frankly I don’t give a shit if he used a naughty word. When’s the last time Belichick coached a football game that didn’t include him yelling an expletive at an official? Why is that okay but you can’t lift your arms in disbelief if you’re Jayson Tatum. The standard needs to change. If an NFL official can keep stony faced while focusing on the game why can’t an NBA official do the same?
IIRC, umpires used to say something like, "Naughty words are OK, as long as 'you' isn't a part of it."
 

Light-Tower-Power

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Sounds like he said something naughty for the 2nd T; 1st T was for continued complaining. Pool report here: https://www.azcentral.com/story/sports/nba/suns/2024/02/14/devin-booker-ejected-in-first-quarter-of-suns-pistons-game/72607754007/
Lane addressed Booker's technical fouls in a pool report after the game.
QUESTION: Why was Devin Booker assessed his first technical foul?
LANE: For continual complaining, and after he’d been warned he continued to complain again towards a game official.
QUESTION: Was it more just about the continuance of it? Or was there language involved as well that warranted it was more?
LANE: It was more about the continuance after he had been warned to stop and he continued to complain.
QUESTION: After the [second] technical foul he gets ejected, was that the continuance again for the second?
LANE: No, the second technical foul was for disparaging remarks he made towards a game official, and then he was ejected for the second one.
QUESTION: Was it the escalation that warranted the ejection early in the game?
LANE: The comment that he made met our standards and warranted the technical foul, the second technical foul which led to the ejection.
QUESTION: Did the pregame events with Drew Eubanks and Isiah Stewart, Eubanks getting punched by Stewart, did that inkling a potential for more on court tension. Did that lead to any way you guys were officiating tonight or ejecting Devin or keeping it tight early?
LANE: No, all the decisions made were based on what was going on and the merits of the game.
I suppose it’s possible but I have a hard time believing anything an official says in a pool report about an ejection. Reads a lot like Karl Lane covering his ass after a ridiculous ejection to me.
 

kazuneko

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IIRC, umpires used to say something like, "Naughty words are OK, as long as 'you' isn't a part of it."
And usually it isn't, right? I'm guessing the typical expletive is something like "that call was shit" or "what the fuck".
But I don't know if they care what you say in the NFL. Belichick has got quite a potty mouth and he lets the officials hear it all the time. Why don't they give the opposing team a first down, or push his team back 10 yards on offense? They don't because that would affect the game and no one but the ref has any reason to give a shit. The NBA needs to learn from the NFL with this. Can you imagine if the NFL tossed Mahomes in the 1st quarter for saying a bad word? It would ruin the game. The NFL seems to get that; The NBA not so much...
 

kazuneko

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Is it really "Silver"? Does he decide what to stress? Or does he follow the instructions of the owners like other Commissioners?
The owners want their stars ejected in the first quarter for saying a dirty word? I mean, I don't know whose voice is most important but it would seem unlikely that in a capitalist system the owners of sports franchise would want star players regularly tossed.
 

Lose Remerswaal

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The owners want their stars ejected in the first quarter for saying a dirty word? I mean, I don't know whose voice is most important but it would seem unlikely that in a capitalist system the owners of sports franchise would want star players regularly tossed.
I agree, but I thought Commissioners followed the orders of the owners, which is why this seems to be so strange and counter-productive
 

PedroKsBambino

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Sounds like he said something naughty for the 2nd T; 1st T was for continued complaining. Pool report here: https://www.azcentral.com/story/sports/nba/suns/2024/02/14/devin-booker-ejected-in-first-quarter-of-suns-pistons-game/72607754007/
Lane addressed Booker's technical fouls in a pool report after the game.
QUESTION: Why was Devin Booker assessed his first technical foul?
LANE: For continual complaining, and after he’d been warned he continued to complain again towards a game official.
QUESTION: Was it more just about the continuance of it? Or was there language involved as well that warranted it was more?
LANE: It was more about the continuance after he had been warned to stop and he continued to complain.
QUESTION: After the [second] technical foul he gets ejected, was that the continuance again for the second?
LANE: No, the second technical foul was for disparaging remarks he made towards a game official, and then he was ejected for the second one.
QUESTION: Was it the escalation that warranted the ejection early in the game?
LANE: The comment that he made met our standards and warranted the technical foul, the second technical foul which led to the ejection.
QUESTION: Did the pregame events with Drew Eubanks and Isiah Stewart, Eubanks getting punched by Stewart, did that inkling a potential for more on court tension. Did that lead to any way you guys were officiating tonight or ejecting Devin or keeping it tight early?
LANE: No, all the decisions made were based on what was going on and the merits of the game.
Video-audio or it didn’t happen.
 

Humphrey

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I guess this is as good a place as any to put this as we are discussing NBA officiating.

The Celtics on Wednesday committed a foul w/a minute to go in Q1, and no others until the 6-minute mark of Q3. 19 minutes w/o a foul.

The Nets fouled in the last 10 seconds of Q1 and Q2. None in between. The foul at the end of Q2 was a reach-in so that the Celts would have to inbound and run a play.

So Q2 had one foul and had the Nets decided the game was over before the half (it was, they were up over 30) and not used the "one to give", there would have been an entire NBA quarter w/o a foul.

Wonder how many times that has happened.

Clearly the refs had decided to start the All Star Break as soon as possible. Kornet got away w/2 or 3 in that time span.
 

Jed Zeppelin

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Foul calls are always going to be bizarre because slow motion can make anything look like anything, so whatever.

The thing I would like to have explained to me is the wildly different application of the rules in identical situations across different games.

Namely, how in the Indy loss when they overturned a foul on JB (the head contact travesty game), they gave Indy the ball on a clear rebound.

So, which crew got it wrong? They can’t both be right. KP’s rebound was just as clear as the Indy one. Someone misapplied the same rule, which is a colossal fuckup, although I’m sure there is some grey area CYA bullshit in the rules somewhere.
 

HomeRunBaker

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The final :05 of Celtics game was inexcusable with the refs on the floor. They let Garland’s two blocking fouls against Tatum go then whistle him for an invisible foul that was corrected w replay….but no idea why it was ruled a jumpball.
 

the moops

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They can’t both be right. KP’s rebound was just as clear as the Indy one. Someone misapplied the same rule, which is a colossal fuckup, although I’m sure there is some grey area CYA bullshit in the rules somewhere.
Porzingis rebound/putback would have occurred after the buzzer
 

Jed Zeppelin

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Porzingis rebound/putback would have occurred after the buzzer
That makes no sense. If they can extrapolate things that happened after the whistle with that much certainty then why leave time on the clock and do a jump ball at all?

Either there is time to do something or there isn't.

Or it’s Schrödinger’s Replay, I suppose.
 

HomeRunBaker

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Porzingis rebound/putback would have occurred after the buzzer
This is inconsistent with the ruling to put the .7 back on the clock. The ball hit the rim at .7 and not touched by KP until after the buzzer. Maybe per the rule the clock stops when it hits the rim? That is illogical though.
 

PedroKsBambino

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So, having watched it a bunch of times now I think the issue is that the clock operator stopped the clock at 0.7 which is when Tatum's shot hits back iron initially. Then it bounces up, bounces off front of rim, and then KP tips it in. I had not seen it quite as clearly initially. There is no buzzer, no red light, no refs waving it off because the clock had stopped for the foul that occurred and was correctly called initially. One would hope that they note the clock operator was really bad here---there's definitely no basis for stopping the clock when the shot hits the back rim, the foul was whistled a second or so earlier. It would have been easier for refs if they let it run out, or stopped on the whistle. part of what makes the below sequence so tough is the odd stoppage point.

View: https://www.espn.com/video/clip/_/id/39662673

Then, they go to review and fabricate the overrule of the foul called on the floor.

But they have a practical problem: time in the real world didn't actually stop once the shot hit the back iron at 0.7. We all know this to be true. But, it may be the case (probably is the case) that had the clock operator not stopped the clock, had the foul not been called, time would have expired before KP tip-in. However....they have no basis for ending the game---there's no provision in the rules for taking time off the clock there. So they can't say "well, game would have ended". The clock never got below 0.7 and they have no provision to do anything about that.

What they probably should have done, based on the rules, is said "there was possession, so Celtics ball" and ignore the reality that time would have come off. That's a quirk of the replay rules and an overturn---they have this 'time stops' period where they don't have a clock running or way to intepret it. This is part of why several of us argued in the Indiana/Jaylen scenario it's bad policy to guess at what would have happened. But NBA interprets the rule differently and creates this 'stopped time' problem. I can't see any other rule that you could apply otherwise - you have to rule possession becasue it happened and you don't have a way to lower the clock. Even though that is an odd outcome from Cavs perspective - the clock would have expired. But since it didn't, they can't just eliminated the 0.7 seconds either. So that's a problem.

There are provisions for clock adjustment via review; however, the problem here is that while they CAN adjust it, they actually don't have any way to assess what to reduce it to---only to add it (which is an issue here in that even on the jump ball, the foul was at more like 2.1 or so, not 0.7). The clock had stopped, they can't just take a stopwatch out and say "look, that second bounce is when clock would have hit zero". So they neither added time to the 0.7 (which I believe they could do via the replay rulesm and they can calibrate by watching a replay with clock running and saying when it should have been stopped) or reduced it (which it is unclear they can do, or at least have any criteria to put on any other number). Effecitvely, they just threw up their hands on the timing.

So, in classic NBA "we don't need rules, precedent, or consistency we just try to figure out some way to rule something" fashion they split the baby: they take off the legit foul because, I don't know why. They don't award Celtics the ball, though. And then they rule a jump ball - which also would be impossble clock-wise. They don't add back the time from when the foul was called, and they don't arbitrarily guess a number below 0.7 to guess what might have happened had they let it run.

It's a really awful sequence on the merits---about as bad a 'refball' sequence with bad judgment and bizarre rulings that destroys the end of a game. But I do now see the prudential challenge they had---applying the rule correctly leads to an unfair determination from a Cleveland perspective (Celtics ball, even though clock likely would have expired). I kind of wonder if, in the light of day, the NBA will say privately that the better way to handle this was to uphold the foul call and let the players determine the outcome based on the free thow and whatever happened in the 2.1 seconds that would have remained had they correctly adjusted the clock for the foul.
 
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Light-Tower-Power

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Even with the 0.7 it looked like White got the ball on the tip with an immediate timeout at like 0.2 or 0.3. Would have been enough time to at least try a tip play for Porzingis or Kornet if they didn’t wave the game.
 

PedroKsBambino

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Even with the 0.7 it looked like White got the ball on the tip with an immediate timeout at like 0.2 or 0.3. Would have been enough time to at least try a tip play for Porzingis or Kornet if they didn’t wave the game.
Agreed. They blew that as well, pretty obviously. It's a brutal end of game equence refereeing-wise....and that extends back to very inconsitent rulings on hand-contact fouls over the last five minutes.

Zarba does this pretty regularly - I'm sure the league likes that he stops the game, reviews things, etc. but the end result is no flow, a series of arbitrary judgments (not biased, just unpredictable and inconsistent) and the feeling that we're watching a set of figure skating judges huddle to pick a winner rather than a bunch of players do things within a set of rules.
 

jayhoz

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Why wasn’t more time put on the clock? From replay it looked like the foul occurred with over a second left on the clock.
 

Van Everyman

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Great summary, @PedroKsBambino.
The final :05 of Celtics game was inexcusable with the refs on the floor. They let Garland’s two blocking fouls against Tatum go then whistle him for an invisible foul that was corrected w replay….but no idea why it was ruled a jumpball.
Meanwhile, Porzingis gets fouled like 7 times in that possession in the paint a minute or so earlier with no whistle despite having his jersey tugged and yanked for almost 3 seconds.

Did Zarba do Game 2 of the Finals in 2022? Or was it one of the Milwaukee games that year where they initially called Giannis with a charge before overturning it because Grant’s jaw got in the way?

I despise that fucking guy.
 

the moops

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Even with the 0.7 it looked like White got the ball on the tip with an immediate timeout at like 0.2 or 0.3. Would have been enough time to at least try a tip play for Porzingis or Kornet if they didn’t wave the game.
I think this is consistent with other rulings. Wasn’t there a game recently where there was .3 seconds left and there was a free throw or something and celts got the rebound and didn’t get the timeout because there has to be possession then enough time to call the timeout? But maybe that call sucked too
 

the moops

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That makes no sense. If they can extrapolate things that happened after the whistle with that much certainty then why leave time on the clock and do a jump ball at all?

Either there is time to do something or there isn't.

Or it’s Schrödinger’s Replay, I suppose.
Just a theory i was throwing out there. But if you just run the replay you can see that at least a second runs off the clock after the ball hits the rim and before KP touches it.
 

Light-Tower-Power

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I think this is consistent with other rulings. Wasn’t there a game recently where there was .3 seconds left and there was a free throw or something and celts got the rebound and didn’t get the timeout because there has to be possession then enough time to call the timeout? But maybe that call sucked too
I'm not sure about that one, but I just watched it back and the ball is firmly in White's hands with either 0.2 or 0.3 on the clock and Joe calling timeout. I mean yeah the tip is a super low percentage look but with two 7+ footers out there who knows. Would have been nice for them to get a chance.
 

tims4wins

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Foul calls are always going to be bizarre because slow motion can make anything look like anything, so whatever.

The thing I would like to have explained to me is the wildly different application of the rules in identical situations across different games.

Namely, how in the Indy loss when they overturned a foul on JB (the head contact travesty game), they gave Indy the ball on a clear rebound.

So, which crew got it wrong? They can’t both be right. KP’s rebound was just as clear as the Indy one. Someone misapplied the same rule, which is a colossal fuckup, although I’m sure there is some grey area CYA bullshit in the rules somewhere.
Wanted to bump this because I don't think it's been answered.

Edit: and this kind of raises the point, you can't win a protest on a judgment call, but you can win one on a misapplied rule / process call. I don't know what the statute of limitations is on something like this, but the Celtics rightfully should get to replay the ending of one of these two games. Unsure which.
 
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PedroKsBambino

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I would guess NBA would say it's a judgment call whether, by terms of the rule, a player had 'clear possession' and thus, not something you can protest.

I also would actually be surprised if NBA wouldn't admit privately that the two determinations are inconsistent (I mean, Indiana clearly didn't have the ball in someone's hands, and KP clearly did) and that the time stoppage issue last night was really the key factor.

Here's a L2M prediction: they blame the timekeeping and use that to defend the officials. Which is at one level right and at another level preposterous (the NBA owns the timekeeping and refs and reviews).
 

Gene Conleys Plane Ticket

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Zarba's explanation. "“In our opinion, there was clear and conclusive evidence that the leg extension by Tatum created that marginal contact with the defender Garland, where otherwise contact wouldn’t have been made,” crew chief Zach Zarba said in the referees’ pool report,” per The Boston Globe’s Adam Himmelsbach. “That’s why it was overturned.”"

But WAS there "clear and conclusive" evidence that Garland did NOT commit a foul? To my eye, it was still ambiguous. Looked like Garland may have brushed Tatum's upper body before the leg was extended. In any case, the simplest thing to do, which would have avoided the complete officiating meltdown, was simply NOT overturn the foul on what Zarba himself admits was a matter of "opinion." Just a reminder: the whole purpose of replay is to take "opinion" out of the equation!

Anyway, with the foul call standing, Tatum goes to the line. Then Cavs get the ball back with either a chance to hit a buzzer beater (albeit a slight chance) or they win the game because Taum missed the FTs. Simple. Instead, the refs made a self-admitted judgment call on the replay, and that created a cascading effect of confusion. Typical. But there WAS an easier way that would have also been fair.
 

the moops

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But WAS there "clear and conclusive" evidence that Garland did NOT commit a foul? To my eye, it was still ambiguous. Looked like Garland may have brushed Tatum's upper body before the leg was extended.
If anything, that slight brush would have been deemed incidental contact. And rightfully so. If we just focus on the shot attempt, a no-call was definitely the correct call
 

Jed Zeppelin

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I think PKB has laid it out very well upthread and I believe he is probably right in that the league opens some cans of worms and leaves others closed without thinking about it too hard. And the amount of stuff that is left up to the clock operator is very funny, always. I watched a bunch of replays of the Jaylen play from the Indy game and aside from there being more time left, it was strikingly similar right down to the foul occurring at more like 4 or 3.8 seconds instead of the 3.2 seconds they blew it at (and left it at).

I know they can and do put time back on the clock for various reasons but sometimes they also don’t. Maybe the distinction is if the foul is determined to have happened they will put the time back on but if it was determined not to have happened they won’t add it back. Ultimately I think they probably don’t think too deeply about it. A lot of these calls seem to be vibe-based.

All of this is a big part of why getting rid of replay would be a big net positive for the game. Having officials determine the impact and intent of contact while watching in super slow motion is just stupid and leads to wildly inconsistent rulings all over the place. And how you have refs deciding what a natural shooting motion is or should be which is just patently absurd unless you’re talking Reggie-style kick-outs.

I think the NFL has mostly figured out that if they do the reviews quickly and keep it the explanations simple they can avoid a lot of these headaches. Maybe NBA will figure it out eventually.
 

PedroKsBambino

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Zarba is a terrible referee and that's a very marginal interpretation at best.

There are two things in motion at once---Tatum's leg and Garland's body and leg. It is inarguable that Garland was in motion. It is inarguable that Tatum's leg was extended. What Zarba is supposed to do is assess this rule: "Offensive players may not extend any part of their body unnaturally into their opponent." https://videorulebook.nba.com/archive/offensive-foul-shooter-extends-leg-unnaturally-into-defender/#:~:text=And while it is the,flagrant foul may be assessed.”

So when he says "leg extension by Tatum created the marginal contact" he is misunderstanding the rule he is trying to apply. The rule does not ask who created the contact, it asks whether the extension of the leg was unnatural. I don't think it was, but however one concludes on that, it's very clear Zarba does not understand the rule he was trying to apply. Tatum's leg is allowed to create the contact if it is his natural shooting motion, and if so that is a foul on the defense. He did not seem to do the analysis right. To the moops' point, maybe Zarba short handed that into "natural motion but contact was marginal" or maybe he'd say "regardelss of whehter it was natural motion, contact was marginal" which I don't agree with on the merits---but it seems like he applied the wrong rule here. Which is a joke, but unsurprising. I guess if you feel the contact was marginal you don't care how he got there---his explation reads to me like he misunderstood the rule and then interpreted marginal through that lens, but we'll never know

To be clear---it may well be a better rule framed as Zarba did - who created the contact? But that is not the actual NBA rule that was applicable to the play.
 
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tims4wins

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I would guess NBA would say it's a judgment call whether, by terms of the rule, a player had 'clear possession' and thus, not something you can protest.

I also would actually be surprised if NBA wouldn't admit privately that the two determinations are inconsistent (I mean, Indiana clearly didn't have the ball in someone's hands, and KP clearly did) and that the time stoppage issue last night was really the key factor.

Here's a L2M prediction: they blame the timekeeping and use that to defend the officials. Which is at one level right and at another level preposterous (the NBA owns the timekeeping and refs and reviews).
I guess. KP was the only one within several feet of the ball, was the only one who went for it, was the only one who touched it.
 

PedroKsBambino

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I guess. KP was the only one within several feet of the ball, was the only one who went for it, was the only one who touched it.
I fully agree---I do not think there's any honest interpretation of the Indiana and last night situations that is consistent, to be clear.
 

tims4wins

PN23's replacement
SoSH Member
Jul 15, 2005
38,461
Hingham, MA
I fully agree---I do not think there's any honest interpretation of the Indiana and last night situations that is consistent, to be clear.
Got it.

The only discernable difference to me is that JB threw up an airball (because he was hit in the head, but I digress), and the ball fell into the lap of an Indy player very shortly after we hear the whistle; whereas last night, the whistle blows while the ball is in the air after having hit the rim, and takes longer to get to KP for his touch. All of that is just a result of "how the ball bounces", it's not a difference in rules or whatever.
 

lovegtm

Member
SoSH Member
Apr 30, 2013
12,984
The end of the game was the least of the issues here: they completely stopped calling fouls against the Cavs early in the 4th, which let Cleveland go on that run in the first place. Just complete manhandling on any drive.

I know you expect to win with 22-point leads in the 4th, but that was some really serious refball.