Home > Blocking, Good calls, LA Lakers, New Orleans Hornets > Hornets vs. Lakers (Game 1): Good call by ref deserves credit on a tough play during big possession

Hornets vs. Lakers (Game 1): Good call by ref deserves credit on a tough play during big possession

In New Orleans’ 109-100 victory over the Lakers on Sunday, there was really only one controversial call late in the game worth mentioning, and it was the correct call.

When we first saw the play, we thought the ref call was wrong because we were focusing on the contact that Chris Paul was applying on Derek Fisher‘s back, which is the most obvious contact in the play. On the replay from the floor camera angle, you’ll see Fisher has his leg extended in front of Paul while Paul is standing still, which is legal.

Analyst Jeff Van Gundy asks if Fisher was in a “legal guarding position,” which he was. But Van Gundy goes on to say Fisher “didn’t move.” However, if you slow down the replay enough times (which we have done for you in the video), you will see that Fisher moved his left knee upwards, almost into Paul’s groin, along with his left heel rising off the floor, revealing that his thigh is moving slyly upwards. This explains why referee Greg Willard (#53) called a block on Fisher.

Paul was pretty smart on this play because he saw how Fisher was positioned with his leg in his path, and decided to drive through Fisher’s leg. Paul might have been called for a charge if Fisher hadn’t raised his leg upwards, which Willard caught. Paul also sold the contact well by contorting his body and letting go of the ball like he had been jolted harder than he really was.

  • Bill

    The Lakers played the New Orleans Hornets. Not the Memphis Grizzlies.

    • RefCalls staff

      Thanks for catching the mistake. I’ve corrected it. I was pretty bleary-eyed working into the wee hours of the morning on all the bad calls from yesterday! It took longer than I thought on our inaugural weekend, and was delirious by the end of it, getting a little mixed up in my thinking.

  • Steve

    Interesting site, but I think you’ve missed the boat on this one.

    I’m no Fisher fan, and find his incessant “craftiness” in the form of flopping/etc annoying, however, whether he lifts his leg or not it’s not a foul, and certainly not a blocking foul. And regardless of that, he’s only lifting his leg because his body is rising and tilting backwards (no doubt anticipating the need for another flop), which is the reason that both of his feet are lifting and not just the one next to Chris Paul. This is important because if he’s lifting only one leg then you can indeed make the argument that his leg is indeed to impede Paul in some way, but since it’s both of them then it’s not an isolated fact.

    Also, I think you’re giving the referee too much credit. Like half the calls in the NBA, he was anticipating a foul (in this case blocking) before anything actually occurred based solely on Fisher’s position, Paul’s intended movement, and his particular angle on the play which would look like contact whether it happened or not. It didn’t actually end up occurring, but that’s not exactly new when it comes to these types of whistles.

    It’s an interesting play regardless, and I look forward to more breakdowns, right or wrong, because 1) any attention on officiating is good attention and 2) they can’t possibly be as bad as Making the Call with Ronnie Nunn was.

    • RefCalls staff

      Thanks for your comment. I think if it were the traditional blocking type violation where the offensive player is running at near full speed while dribbling the ball, the ref might anticipate the block as you mentioned. But in this case they were both just standing there before Chris Paul made his move, which is very unusual right for a block. So we think that the ref had to call it based on what he saw, and it looked like he even had a better angle of Fisher’s thigh movement than even the cameras had. Only by slowing the play down like we did could we come close to replicating what the ref saw.

      We agree with you somewhat on that Ronnie Nunn show. There were some good things they talked about, but most of them were off-the-wall things that happened in games that were more like trivia questions from the rulebook. It would have been nice if they just addressed the basic stuff that needs to be fixed, like missed travels (as seen in our video http://RefCalls.com/missed-travels).