The controversial play near the end of Game 5 of the Los Angeles Clippers' comeback win over the Oklahoma City Thunder was the talk of social media and talk radio since the end of the game. We wondered whether or not the referees got the call right, if the rule in place actually applied to the play, and why Tony Brothers would issue a statement about the replay being inconclusive, which offered up nothing acceptable to the Clippers and their irrate coach.
The NBA issued a statement this evening about the play in question, with Rod Thorn agreeing with Brothers' statement that there wasn't conclusive evidence on the replay. This certainly won't help Doc Rivers and his players accept the reasoning for the ball remaining in possession of the Thunder late in the game. From the NBA:
Rod Thorn, NBA President, Basketball Operations, issued the following statement today regarding an instant replay review late in the fourth quarter of the Oklahoma City Thunder's 105-104 win over the Los Angeles Clippers on May 13, at Chesapeake Energy Arena:
“With 11.3 seconds left in the game, the basketball went out of bounds on the baseline and the referees ruled the ball belonged to the Thunder. The referees then used instant replay to review the play. In order to reverse the call made on the court, there has to be ‘clear and conclusive' evidence. Since no replay provided such evidence, the play correctly stood as called with the Thunder retaining possession.”
We went over the rule last night and how it might apply to the play. The rule in place for the officials to award the Thunder to retain possession seems legit, even if it is debatable how strictly the letter of the law should be followed. There is a rule about hitting the player's hand and how the officials can utilize replay to confirm such a call, and yet the league shied away from it to stick with Brothers' reasoning. That's disappointing, but the Clippers are already moving on.