Home > Bad announcing, Chicago Bulls, Indiana Pacers, Missed travels, Offensive foul > Pacers-Bulls (Game 2): Controversial play with Hibbert late in game shouldn’t have happened

Pacers-Bulls (Game 2): Controversial play with Hibbert late in game shouldn’t have happened

Since the 76er-Heat game on Monday night was a blowout where there weren’t any impactful ref calls that could have changed the outcome, we’re going to focus on the Pacers-Bulls game, which was a completely different story.

There were several bad calls (and good calls) in a fairly physical 4th quarter in this game. They are too numerous to go through in this post, but we’ll try to get to some more of them posted on Tuesday. For this post we are featuring what we think will be on Tuesday the most talked about play from the game.

It’s the alleged Roy Hibbert “push-off” foul on Joakim Noah the refs called against Hibbert with one minute remaining in the game, Pacers down 90-85. It was a huge call since it kept the margin wide enough for Chicago to hold on for the win and go up 2-0 in the series.

It’s a tough call to make for most refs. TNT analyst Chris Webber does have a point in his commentary that there was probably enough separation between the two players that made the contact Hibbert initiated “incidental.”

But after looking at the replay many times, it’s still very subjective. If I were the ref, I wouldn’t have made that call because Hibbert’s arm wasn’t creating separation — he already had enough since Noah was originally far enough away from Hibbert, relatively speaking.

However, the point that I’m sure alot of people are missing is that Hibbert’s shot attempt should have been waved off because…HE TRAVELED! Check out the video below where you’ll see Hibbert not only lifts his pivot foot before taking the shot, he puts it down and lifts it again!

The refs who missed this travel are Bob Delaney (#26), Marc Davis (#34), and Rodney Mott (#71).

It’s amazing that refs miss relatively easy travel calls like this one. Have we let the game of basketball get so out-of-hand and away from the rulebook that “expert” TV analysts who used to play in the NBA don’t even look for it anymore? At least you can see in the video on the sidelines that Chicago coach Tom Thibodeau makes a traveling signal with his hands.

In cased you haven’t seen it yet, we address the whole problem of missed travels in the NBA — which is one of the most overlooked aspects of the game in our opinion — in this video at RefCalls.com/missed-travels. Check it out if you have some time.

  • hoops

    That fact that Hibbert traveled is almost irrelevant. You are distorting what the story should be, that Rodney Mott was responsible for a completely phantom offensive foul call in a close game. If you want to bring potential calls or missed calls into context, then you should include the rest of them on that same possession. What preceded the uncalled travel? 1) Noah pushing and displacing Hibbert on the catch (somewhat subjective) and 2) Noah extending his arm into Hibbert’s back before Hibbert puts the ball on the floor. Not subjective at all, that is a foul per the NBA’s rulebook.
    So yes, multiple violations were potentially missed on that play, but the whistle that did happen was erroneous. That type of off-arm movement is routinely ignored, as it should be, because there is no definite advantage gained.

    • blah

      They called in on Boozer a least twice during game 1.

    • RefCalls staff

      We’re going to write a piece soon about “incidental contact.” That stuff you mentioned is very subjective, and there’s one part of the rulebook (have you checked?) that gives lots of leeway to refs to make calls about what they think is enough contact to warrant a foul. It’s kind of a loophole in the rulebook that gives them an excuse to decide what they think. The problem is that refs are very inconsistent about it when you go from one ref to another (the same can be said for fans having differing opinions among each other), which is maddening.

      So the intent of our site is to shed light on the actual rules, then hopefully more enforcement will occur, or more work will be done by the league to get more consistency among the refs.

    • RefCalls staff

      Forgot to mention in our last reply that the travel that occurred is one part of the play that is not subjective and not open to ref interpretation, so that’s what we focused on since it’s clear in the rules what you can do with your feet, as explained in the video.

  • James

    If you watch his steps his first step is the one he uses as his pivot, he slides it sure but that’s typical in the NBA. But his second step wasn’t his pivot foot it was his first, this is a common move by post players. I believe its completely legal(aside from the sliding). Just an pbservation, i may be wrong but i hope not :)

    Great website by the way

    • RefCalls Staff

      Thanks for the compliment on the web site.

      We looked at the video alot before posting and determined that his first step was the one right after that quick dribble he made (hard to see he dribbled it because it was so fast, but he did). So his second step has to be his pivot foot because he can’t take any more steps after that or it would be a travel.

      And remember, anything “typical” or “common” in the NBA doesn’t mean it’s right. That’s why we’re here — to keep things real since no one looks or follows alot of the rulebook anymore. ;-)

    • RefCalls staff

      Thanks for the compliment on the web site.

      We looked at the video alot before posting and determined that his first step was the one right after that quick dribble he made (hard to see he dribbled it because it was so fast, but he did). So his second step has to be his pivot foot because he can’t take any more steps after that or it would be a travel.

      And remember, anything “typical” or “common” in the NBA doesn’t mean it’s right. That’s why we’re here — to keep things real since no one looks or follows alot of the rulebook anymore. ;-)

  • http://www.facebook.com/WesleyBarnett Wesley Barnett

    Probably meant to call travel, realized he missed it, and called offensive foul. Wash.

  • Kit

    hmm.. i agree with james here.. i don’t think it’s a travel other than sliding.. clearly the right foot was the pivot here.. yes it’s the first step.. and i think the first step should always be the pivot.. if you take a second step then you should go up without taking another step.. if you take a second step and use it as your pivot, and you move your non-pivot foot again.. i think that is a travel.. it’s like taking a third step. my two cents.

    • RefCalls staff

      We saw the sliding foot and immediately discounted that as his pivot foot because our ref on staff told us that sliding is counted as a step. Otherwise, players would be sliding all over the place.

      That said, the rulebook doesn’t go into sliding — but that’s what refs have learned. The problem is the interpretation/enforcement of counting a slide as a step is all over the place, and usually not called.

      The rulebook doesn’t say your first step is always the pivot foot. It says it’s the opposite foot that says in contact with the floor when the other foot has stepped once, or more than once in any direction. Kind of confusing terminology, I know.

      So because Hibbert slid his right foot and that was a step, and still had his left foot on the floor at the time, we assigned his left foot as the pivot and watched it carefully, which he eventually lifted before releasing the ball. And he actually did it twice as shown in the video.