Home > Backcourt violation, Denver Nuggets, Good calls, Oklahoma City Thunder > Nuggets-Thunder (Game 5): Reversal of a huge call shows how ref teamwork should work

Nuggets-Thunder (Game 5): Reversal of a huge call shows how ref teamwork should work

When we launched RefCalls.com about 12 days ago, we stated that we weren’t going to be a place where we just threw the refs under the ball the time, but also give refs credit when we believe they get a very difficult call right in a crucial situation.

We’ve since done that on several occasions to try to keep things fair. We acknowledge how tough it is to ref an NBA game, and feel it’s important to do it again after the refs made the correct call in a very tough situation working the Denver-Oklahoma City game last night.

OKC was only leading by one point, 98-97, with 14.8 seconds remaining in the game. They called a backcourt violation against Kevin Durant, but then reversed it. Durant followed that call up by hitting a big jumper to give OKC a 3-point lead, which was huge to help them win the game and the series.

Here’s how it all went down. TNT analyst Mike Fratello does an accurate job explaining the situation and the rules…

Durant was very lucky that he received the ball and stopped with his left foot touching the line. If he hadn’t, then had his next step with his left foot touched the half court line for the first time, then it would have been a backcourt violation.

Oklahoma City also lucked out they had a ref (Bill Spooner (#23)) who was willing to reverse his own call, most likely after a fellow crew member (looks like Scott Foster (#48)) probably asked him if perhaps Durant caught the ball at the same time that his left foot landed on the half court line, or his first step after securing the ball was also on the half court line. As we have seen several times in these playoffs (and the regular season), most times when a ref makes a call, his fellow crew members don’t question him.

Amazingly, though, just like goaltending, backcourt violations are not reviewable through instant replay. We think both call types need to be reviewable because there are many occasions when it’s impossible to see and determine what happened in situations that unfold so quickly.

Unfortunately, it wasn’t a good night for TNT’s Charles Barkley after the game. First, he was vociferous in saying the baseline ref on this play “overruled” the ref who originally signaled the backcourt violation (Spooner), and how could he do that all the way from across the court? That wasn’t the case, though. Spooner was the one who made the signal to correct his original call and make it OKC’s ball.

Second, Barkley said the refs looked at the monitor to make the call. As stated above, backcourt violations are not reviewable according to our poring over the rulebook (the section on what’s reviewable is surprisingly very long). As one ref told us before, it’s written like lawyers wrote it to make sure that it is as specific as possible.