The controversial ending between the Chicago Bulls and Denver Nuggets on Monday night has left many fans scratching their heads, typing furiously away at their keyboards or smart phones and left everybody wondering why one potential basket interference wasn't reviewed while another one was.
In case you missed the end of the Nuggets' victory to extend their win streak to an impressive 12 games, Ty Lawson drove to the basket for a layup attempt with 50 seconds left in the overtime period. He missed the layup, but Kosta Koufos cleaned up the play by tipping in the errant shot to give the Nuggets a one-point lead with 46.4 seconds left.
As you can see in the replay, there's a lot going on. As Koufos appears to touch the basketball, it does briefly look like the ball is beginning to fall off the rim and out of the basket. If he tips the ball while waiting another split second, it's probably a completely and clearly legal tip-in by the Nuggets' big man. However, in the freeze frame of the video, you can clearly see he's touching the ball while it's on the cylinder.
According to the misunderstood rules section on NBA.com:
When a player shoots the ball, a defender may not touch the ball after it reaches its highest point. If so, the shot shall be ruled successful. A defender also can not touch a shot after it has hit the backboard and is going towards the rim, whether it is going up or down. Once the ball is on or directly above the rim, no player can touch the ball. If an offensive player is guilty in any of the above circumstances, basket interference shall be ruled and no points can be scored.
This can be reviewed by replay in the last two minutes of the game, but a basket intereference call has to be made to trigger such a review. Here's the rule regarding reviewing basket interference situations:
Officials are not reasonably certain whether a goaltending or basket interference
violation was called correctly during the last two minutes of the fourth period
and/or the entire overtime period(s)
Since the tip-in wasn't called a basket interference violation in the first place, the Koufos play couldn't be reviewed. That seems like a shaky rule, but that's what was agreed to by the competition committee.
The problem is, roughly 45 seconds later, Joakim Noah tipped in a short game-winning attempt by Marco Belinelli with 1.7 seconds left. The Bulls took the lead on the tip-in and had a chance to win the game with a final defensive stop. Denver called time out, and the officials decided to review the play.
There are two questions that come up:
1) Was this offensive goaltending by Noah?
2) Why was this reviewed?
Since the officials didn't call basket intereference or goaltending by the Bulls, there should not have been a review of the play, right?
This is definitely a goaltend by the letter of the law from the NBA rule book.
Touch any ball from within the playing area that is on its downward flight with an
opportunity to score. This is considered to be a “field goal attempt” or trying for a goal.
Even though the ball looks like it's going to come up short on the shot, it definitely looks like it will hit the rim. Therefore, the ruling of Noah goaltending Belinelli's shot is correct. I just have no idea why it was reviewed in the first place.