With 3.1 seconds remaining and the Hawks down two in Game 6 against the Celtics, Marvin Williams was set to inbound the ball.
A whistle blew, play stopped and everyone was confused. The Celtics had a foul to give, but there was a catch: According to NBA rules, in the last two minutes if a foul happens away from the ball, things change. Here's what the rulebook says:
a. During the last two minutes of the fourth period or overtime period(s) with the offensive team in possession of the ball, all personal fouls which are assessed against the defensive team prior to the ball being released on a throw-in and/or away-from-the-play, shall be administered as follows:Also known as "the Hack-a-Shaq" rule.
(1) A personal foul and team foul shall be assessed and one free throw attempt shall be awarded. The free throw may be attempted by any play-er in the game at the time the personal foul was committed.
So the question is, did Marquis Daniels foul Al Horford before the ball was thrown in? It's almost simultaneous, but that's when you go by the official's whistle. The foul occured a split second before Williams inbounded the ball as Daniels held Horford.
Which means the Hawks should've had Kirk Hinrich or some other good free throw shooter taking a shot to bring Atlanta within one, and them still in possession with 3.1 seconds left. Obviously, the game could've changed.
Instead, Daniels ended up fouling Horford on the next inbound play, Horford made one of two and the Celtics won.
Maybe the game would've finished differently, maybe we just would've been treated to another ill-advised long jumper from Josh Smith. Close call, but it appears that the Hawks got the short end of the whistle here.