Home > Charging, Dallas Mavericks, Miami Heat, Missed travels > Heat-Mavericks (Game 5): Two big ref calls/no-calls near the end of game

Heat-Mavericks (Game 5): Two big ref calls/no-calls near the end of game

We’ll be working on videos of missed calls from Thursday’s Game 5 and publishing them on Saturday and Sunday. But before doing that, we wanted to feature two plays near the end of the game that had an impact on the outcome.

They both occurred with over 2 minutes remaining, so there was still plenty of time for the outcome of the game to be affected by subsequent plays, but they were big plays nonetheless.

The first is of Dirk Nowitzki driving along the baseline where the refs (specifically Bill Kennedy) missed Nowitzki traveling on his way to a dunk that put the Mavericks up 102-100.

Then on the very next possession, it was a tough call for ref Joe Crawford to make at real speed when LeBron James caught the ball as he was driving to the hoop, and was called for a charging violation on Tyson Chandler.

Chandler was established when James charged into him, and Chandler was in the restricted area (or on the line, which is the same thing). The key question is where was James when he “received” the ball? It’s pretty clear he received it in the lower defensive box area, so this was a good call.

The lower defensive box (LDB) is the area between the tip of the free throw circle, down to the end line, and out across the lane a couple of feet to some small hash marks along the end line that are hardly visible, but they are there.

The reason why the LDB is relevant on block-charge situations like this is because the rule makers understood that it would be impossible for a defender to get out of the restricted area quick enough if an opponent on offense received the ball real close to the basket. It would give the offense an unfair advantage. So that’s why they came up with a reasonable amount of space and grant the defender a “waiver” to legally be in the restricted area.

Check out the video below for these two plays.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=706566865 Josh Bruinsma

    check out this article by Sebastian Pruiti: http://nbaplaybook.com/2011/06/10/why-the-charge-on-lebron-james-was-the-right-call/ it has a real nice freeze frame with the lower defensive area illustrated showing lebron “recieving” the ball just inside it

    • RefCalls-TopFlops staff

      Thanks. Yeah, we saw that post earlier. He does a nice job of it, although in the comments I think he said he made a slight error with the yellow line, which isn’t a big deal.

  • r6

    Video says “service error.” Also, I think Dirk reads #refcalls, as he appears to be taking a lot more “gather” steps in this series, as if he knows that they are not going to be called  and therefore adjusts (proves it would be easy to do in reverse ….). Clearly the NBA reads, though, because there has been a DRAMATIC decline in foul-call replays in the Finals (plus the Youtube harassment). My unscientific take, love to hear what y’all think.

    • RefCalls-TopFlops staff

      Sorry about that. We had to re-upload the video and it’s working now. Our new video hosting service isn’t as great as Youtube’s since it takes longer to re-upload videos if we need to do a slight edit.

      That’s funny about Dirk. Could be he’s reading it more.

      Funny about the foul call replays, too. Not sure if we’re the reason, or they just like to have their announcers be free to talk about whatever they want, but it clearly does a disservice for fans.

    • Meh

      There have been like no replays after suspicious calls throughout the whole playoffs unless the commentators point them out. But that hardly ever happens. Even after a replay they still have trouble admitting wrong calls like yesterday when they showed Lebron clearly fouling Marion when he went up for the layup.

  • Anonymous

    Wow. That’s incredibly astute officiating by Joe Crawford on the block/charge call. It’s nice to see an instance of a bang-bang play being handled right. Tough call to make.

  • RefCalls-TopFlops staff

    We’ll definitely be featuring that in a video to be published soon.

  • RefCalls-TopFlops staff

    The paint is not the lower defensive box. You’re not reading our post close enough. We say in the post this:

    “The lower defensive box (LDB) is the area between the tip of the free throw circle, down to the end line, and out across the lane a couple of feet to some small hash marks along the end line that are hardly visible.”

    With your lack of detail, we’re not going to respond to all of your other comments. It’s useless.

  • RefCalls-TopFlops staff

    Thanks for the compliment.

    Until they call traveling more consistently (or any call), calls they don’t make have an impact on the game just as much as calls they do make. And usually calls and non-calls that happen late in the game that give a team the lead are considered more impactful.

  • RefCalls-TopFlops staff

    First, it’s a travel according to the rules. To your second point, that’s the point. Refs aren’t consistent (some refs would have called that, but not many) and aren’t following the rules, which should mean something. You must be new to the site, which is fine, and great.

    Not enforcing the rules ends up crowning champions that might lead one to conclude, “That team has guys who drive more to the basket (and travel) than other guys, so that pretty much means they’re going to be the champions.” If that’s the formula for winning championships, that’s pretty sad for the game. Why even play the game at all if that’s the key to winning — just driving to the basket since the refs won’t call traveling most of the time?

    We recommend reading other posts on this topic, like http://refcalls.com/rule-issues.

  • RefCalls-TopFlops staff

    Yeah, usually Nowitzki is a little better at not taking 3 steps, but we don’t blame him as much as the refs not calling it. What’s sad is that all these fans (and any other fans for other teams) are cheering under false pretenses. If most of them had known at the time if he had traveled, they might have still gone crazy, but there’s just something inside most fans that makes them think, “Do we really deserve that bucket? Does it really come down to how much we can get away with from the refs in crunch time?”

    We love the tongue-in-cheek comment at the start of your comment. That would be hilarious if the rulebook had a statement like that.

  • RefCalls-TopFlops staff

    We state at the beginning of the post: “We’ll be working on videos of missed calls from Thursday’s Game 5 and publishing them on Friday and Saturday.

    We don’t understand why folks don’t read our posts closely enough.

  • DG

    I do not agree with the charge on LeBron.  I think Chandler got to the spot late and a collision was unavoidable at that point.  He needed to establish his position a little sooner and he was still moving.  Love the site, though.  Nice work.

    • Anonymous

       The video makes it clear Chandler was there standing straight up in the freeze frame before the contact.  Also it doesn’t matter if collision was unavoidable because Lebron caught it in the lower defensive box.  According to the rules Chandler doesn’t have to allow him any space to move.

  • Mark

     Dirk was still in the act of dribbling when you stopped the play.
    The actual completion of the dribble happened after he took the “baby step”.

    Thats not a travel.

    • RefCalls-TopFlops staff

      We go into what “completion of a dribble” is in great detail here: http://refcalls.com/rule-issues (section 1). It’s a travel based on how the rulebook reads.

      • Mark

        No Its  NOT a travel. 
        the ball was still going up when you stopped the play.
        And smart Dirk allowed the ball the go up even further, catching it after he took the baby step.

        The completion is  “when the dribbler permits the ball to come to rest while he is in control of it.” The ball was certainly not resting in Dirk’s hand when you stopped the play, it was still going up.
        You can see it very clearly that the ball is still going up AFTER you stopped the play.

        NOT a travel.

        • RefCalls-TopFlops staff

          It IS a travel. Even a Maverick fan commented on this post that it’s a travel.

          He used a common technique that players like Derrick Rose use (that we have shown in many Bull videos), to bring the hand up while the ball is in their hand to buy them time to sneak in that baby step. And the step is a symptom of the larger issue — it allows you to lean forward to get past your defender. We discuss the whole “come to rest” thing and how the rulebook doesn’t support this technique at http://refcalls.com/rule-issues. Do us a favor and read it.

          Allowing this baby step gives too much of an advantage to the offensive player, so the writers of the rulebook knew what they were doing when they created it — not to give too much of an advantage to the offensive player, but the refs don’t enforce it. Defenders have no chance for players who perfect this technique, which really then makes the game evolve into a league on who can get away with the most to win. But the league loves seeing more dunks.

  • RefCalls-TopFlops staff

    On #1, the word “gather” isn’t in the rulebook, nor is the concept. We go into detail about the so-called gather step at http://refcalls.com/rule-issues (1st section).

    On #2, you are correct. We agree as stated in our post.

  • RefCalls-TopFlops staff

    Thanks for the compliment. We agree it’s tough to make these calls in real time. They need more training, and replay review is recommended if used appropriately.

  • RefCalls-TopFlops staff

    That’s pathetic if Legler didn’t even know. It’s similar to former players like Kerr and Reggie Miller fawning all over moves by Kobe and Rose where palming or a clear travel occurs, but they say know. But to not even know about the LDB and restricted area thing, that’s inexcusable.

    • Anonymous

      Bruce Bowen was on SportsCenter earlier tonight calling out Joey Crawford for a bad call.

      The NBA has a big problem with educating the commentators as well.  I don’t know if they need to get a league spokesperson out in front releasing a statement about some of the calls, and explaining the rules.

      Since ex-players clearly don’t know all the rules, maybe this explains why so many guys complain about obvious fouls constantly.  Maybe they really don’t know what’s going on.

  • RefCalls-TopFlops staff

    I think if you slow down some of the replays we posted, they might appear, but they are really small and might not appear well on the video or photo. If you have a DVR and an HDTV, we suggest looking in the next game when they have a close-up of that part of the floor. We see it on ours, but they are still really, really small.

  • RefCalls-TopFlops staff

    Yes, that was a very tough call. It could have gone either way, but we think it was a charge. We’ll include it in the video for people to take a look. Van Gundy talks about if a player steps to the side, then the call goes against the defender for some reason. We think he’s a little perturbed by that technique, and we feel the same.

  • RefCalls-TopFlops staff

    We would agree with your assessment — that it would all average out — in general terms. But then you have to take into account two things: the number of times they happen (if a team has more players who do it compared to the other), and when they happen, like in crunch time for big buckets.

    It’s a slight edge to the Heat. Early on they had Wade and LeBron doing it more, but with LeBron being less aggressive, it’s dropped off significantly with Wade being the main one. Dirk has used it more recently on big buckets late to help them get wins. So quantitatively, it’s been a little more for the Heat, but in crunch time, it’s been a little more for Dallas. That’s our high-level take of it.

  • clarkster

    First, let me say: I love this website. Good officiating in the NBA is so critical, and it’s failures so damaging, as I truly believe that in basketball – more so than any other sport – the refs can really affect the outcome of a game. With that said,  my chief concern with many of your analyses is the criteria you use to prove an advantage for one team or another through bad/no-calls. Take Game 3: you rightfully point out that there were many bad/no-calls against Miami, but in the same breath say that it’s basically a wash because Dallas comes up with only a 1-point advantage. Again, your criteria for assigning a point-advantage for bad calls is flawed because it only takes into account points MADE, not points DENIED to the offended team. For example, Miami gets into their offense and a ticky-tacky foul is called away from the ball. Turnover. Now, according to your metrics, if Dallas doesn’t convert on the ensuring possession, it’s a wash–that is, no net advantage to Dallas. But what about the scoring opportunity this takes away from Miami? Another scenario: Game 3 and Game 5 saw some shady loose-ball calls against MIA (which we know can be subjective), which may not lead to any direct Dallas scoring, but may move Miami closer to the penalty (which we saw in Game 5, 4th quarter). After that, any fair call against Miami that sends Dallas to the line for points goes under the radar–the damage was already done with the bad calls leading up to penalty, which Dallas didn’t necessarily convert off of. Anyway, enough over-thinking. I like your website’s work, and my gripes are minor. Keep it up, guys.

    • RefCalls-TopFlops staff

      Thanks for the compliments.

      Like we’ve told other people in other comments, we use the words “approximate” and “roughly” as caveats. We know about all the other variables. Our numbers are a starting point for people to extrapolate further if they wish, like you have done.

  • RefCalls-TopFlops staff

    Good points. We’ve become pretty adept like you have at detecting them just by watching lots of video, but e try to be “gentle” by using the “more training” recommendation. In other words, that means do whatever you can to get these guys better. If these guys can’t get better, then bring in new ones.

    Yeah, Jackson was buttering up the refs for when he’s a coach. I think Van Gundy made fun of him after those statements.

    What we didn’t get was when Van Gundy said, after Wade or someone shuffled their feet a whole bunch and they all laughed, that he thought it was hard for the refs to watch the feet while also watching everything else. That was probably not the smartest thing we’ve ever heard him say. Especially in that situation, there was nothing going on other than his feet moving.

  • RefCalls-TopFlops staff

    Yep, it may not be the best metaphor, but “the inmates are running the asylum” gets close to fitting the current situation. We would slightly disagree they are being “taught” to do this in elementary school or wherever. They just study the successful moves on their own watching video, and copy them thinking if it’s okay for the NBA guys to do it, it must be okay for them to do it. But no one at the NBA is stepping up and stopping the stars from doing it, and the announcers say nothing, and there is no incentive for these kids to understand the rules or follow them.

    • http://twitter.com/MATHnBASKETBALL Timothy Hipps

      I have to agree. They kids 11-14 years old are truly emulating the moves they see.  Often times my players shuffle feet, raise pivot foot, or take 3 steps, and then have a look bewilderment and injustice when the whistle blows.  

  • RefCalls-TopFlops staff

    Like we wrote in the post, other videos are coming later tonight or tomorrow.

  • RefCalls-TopFlops staff

    Good points. We’ve become pretty adept like you have at detecting them just by watching lots of video, but e try to be “gentle” by using the “more training” recommendation. In other words, that means do whatever you can to get these guys better. If these guys can’t get better, then bring in new ones.

    Yeah, Jackson was buttering up the refs for when he’s a coach. I think Van Gundy made fun of him after those statements.

    What we didn’t get was when Van Gundy said, after Wade or someone shuffled their feet a whole bunch and they all laughed, that he thought it was hard for the refs to watch the feet while also watching everything else. That was probably not the smartest thing we’ve ever heard him say. Especially in that situation, there was nothing going on other than his feet moving.

  • RefCalls-TopFlops staff

    Yeah, anything to help teams win. The word “gather” is so much in the lexicon of basketball, everyone uses it. Unfortunately, the word “gather” nor the concept is in the rulebook. We were shocked when we did a search for the word, it wasn’t there, and then dug deeper and saw that it wasn’t really supported in the rules. Same for other words and concepts, like “continuation.” The announcers who have used these words and passed it from one generation of announcers to another just shows how much the league does hardly anything to keep the game real by correcting the announcers or getting the refs to enforce these rules.

  • RefCalls-TopFlops staff

    We’re editing the video now, but for the first time Dallas received more calls, points from it, and got more missed travels past the refs.

  • RefCalls-TopFlops staff

    We agree with you. Players shouldn’t have to alter their behavior down the stretch — it’s up to the refs to catch it and enforce it. Players and teams want to win. But if the game evolves into who can get away with the most to win, it hurts the integrity of the game and isn’t fair to the fans. It’s kind of like how there are all kinds of campaign laws that candidates try to get around. Election committees shouldn’t look the other way, just like refs shouldn’t because of the fraud factor. That’s why we name ref names when a bad call or missed call can be assigned to an individual ref. We don’t slight the players, who have grown up making these moves. We blame the league and the refs for allowing.

  • RefCalls-TopFlops staff

    You are right — the refs have been pretty much consistent in not calling them. But we have seen so many traveling plays, there are a couple of times where they have called it, so we wanted to be factually accurate and not throw those refs under a bus.

    Starting with Game 4, we started breaking out travels from the videos so people can look at those separately if they want, except for the Dirk one, which was a significant one. Believe us, we don’t like including the traveling videos since there are so many of them and they are alot of work, but they are important to feature somehow because no one is holding the refs accountable, so someone has to. We think you’re wrong about that “no one really cares” statement. There have been plenty of people who have commented on our posts who understand how it has compromised the game. But there many people who don’t care about this problem that’s just as big of a problem as the other bad calls. It’s just, like you said, if the refs haven’t been calling it, it must not be that big of a deal. That’s like a society giving cops who rough up people a free pass when those people haven’t done anything wrong. If you let them do it long enough, no one questions it. But it’s still wrong.

    • Adam Duke

      I’d like to second PMJ. The rule as it is enforced is the rule… they consistently do not call that step. Before you link me again to your write-up on why its not allowed, let me say that I’ve read it and you are basically just arguing your interpretation of a rule that isn’t clear, i.e. the definition of “completion of a dribble.”

      I think most everybody under 30 has grown up understanding the rule as it currently exists in the NBA, regardless of your interpretation of it. In law, rules with varying degrees of ambiguity are interpreted by the Courts all of the time (in this case, the NBA/officials) and their interpretation of the rule becomes the law. That is effectively what has happened hear… the NBA has interpreted the rule to include the gather, and that is the law… its stare decisis.

      I second that your focus on these “travels” really huts your content and makes it difficult to read. I personally LOVE the breakdowns of the incorrect foul calls, including the travels that are actually travels under the rules as currently enforced, but it is diluted by having to sift through the “travels” that simply aren’t.

      You have started breaking them out into separate videos, which improves it, but it still messes things up because you don’t include missed fouls that occurred on the same play as a “travel” in the missed foul video.

      I love the site, but the whole agenda of trying to convince the world that the way the NBA currently calls travels is “wrong” is annoying and, frankly, makes you seem very old.

      • RefCalls-TopFlops staff

        You are free to go to another site. We don’t claim to be all things to all people. We set out to grade the refs when we started this movement, but you can’t grade the refs if your criteria is based on something that is not in compliance with the written rules. Then people would complain, “That’s not in the rulebook.” When in doubt, always refer to the rulebook. The rulebook goes into infinite detail about what the penalty is for the most rare cases, like if a player shatters a backboard. If they can be that precise on some of the rarest of events, they can certainly be more precise on much larger and important parts of the game. We would think you, and many others, would love to see reports on who the best and worst refs are in the league, but you can’t even start grading them until you follow a standard. The problem is that there is a “real world” standard in what refs call on the court, and then a written standard (the rulebook) that should be changed, or vice versa.

        People who continue to defend the laziness of refs or the league to follow the rules is “annoying” to us and many others, to use your term. Using terms like “gather” and “continuation” aren’t even in the rulebook, so either change the rules to reflect those terms and concepts, or follow the rules as written. There should be transparency by having the rules reflect what they are going to call. Why have a rulebook then? But everyone knows if they changed the rules to be more clear on what they are allowing now, then it will expose how much they have let things go, and expose how much the league loves how people eat up dunks and highlight reel plays because that’s what sells to basketball fans not schooled in the rules and fundamentals of the game. If a game’s popularity is highly dependent on what they show on Sportscenter, then that game has been cheapened.

        And your point about people being under 30 growing up with that understanding is exactly the point. No one should be able to hijack the game when the game has been around much longer than any of us have been around unless the rules are changed. If change is going to take place, then it should be openly debated like other major rule changes that have occurred throughout the years, and the rules should be changed. But they are either too lazy or are afraid of the ramifications. If people want the rules to be malleable to fit their entertainment goals, then they can go watch AND1.

        So if you want to ignore the travels, which have a huge impact on the outcome of games (may not be as apparent as bad calls, but they are), feel free. Then this site isn’t for you (although we do include bad calls even if travels occurred) until the league changes the rules (they’ve been too afraid or lazy to change them?). We just don’t include points that occurred right after travels in any point differential calculations.

        • James

          Just as an addendum on the above comment, there are also travels where there is a gather step AND another 3 steps, making it a 4 step travel. Plus there is always going to be a degree to this gather step anyways. Sometimes its just a few frames in the video (milliseconds) late that a player puts their foot down on the first step. Sometimes its almost 3/4 of a step used to blow by a defender.

  • RefCalls-TopFlops staff

    Yeah (if you’re talking about the Dirk play where he dribbled AFTER he caught the pass). The whole “gather step” that so many people refer to doesn’t exist in the rulebook. We did a search for that word, and it’s not there. Then we started studying it further, and the concept isn’t even there. We discuss this research in full detail at http://refcalls.com/rule-issues. You can check out the first section where we discuss it.

    Lots of players (like Derrick Rose) have perfected the technique where they raise their hand after the ball touches their hand to make it look like the dribble is still occurring while they sneak in that baby step, but that’s a technique to buy time to get that baby step in. And the baby step is a symptom to the larger problem — it allows the guy with the ball the ability to lean past his defender. On all the videos where we feature this technique, the players is able to gain a slight advantage by leaning forward past their man. They can’t do this without having to take the baby step. We’d like to see players have to use real skill to score, or to get past defenders legally, or be required to use more difficult moves to score. As it stands right now with this rule not being enforced, the player will either get to the basket, or will get fouled and go to the line because the defender had no chance. We’ve noticed that plays that guards from the past perfected shots that were amazing, like fadeaway step-back jumpers off the glass (like Wade did in Game 5, which was gorgeous, but is very rare). But those are harder to work on and perfect. It’s easier for them to just blow past their man with the baby step/lean forward and go up for a dunk, or get fouled and go to the line.

  • RefCalls-TopFlops staff

    We’re working on a video now where we’ll post stats of the “wrong call” and “missed travels” disparity. We don’t really go into general foul call disparities since the number of personal fouls from each team can be found in the boxscore. Our mission is to try to shine a light on the refs so that the quality of officiating will improve. That work is so time-consuming, it doesn’t allow us to delve into other stats at this time that you reference, although it would be fun to do if we can add more volunteers to the team.

  • RefCalls-TopFlops staff

    Thanks. Appreciate the compliment!

  • RefCalls-TopFlops staff

    Thanks. We hope we’ll be able to cover the NFL and other sports in the future.

  • Kevin Foster

    As a Mavs fan yes, they did get the benefit of calls on game 5. However as you see, the calls have been in the Heat favor up until game 5… so we all need to keep an open mind by seeing these games in regards with the official rulebook. The goal here is to expose the terrible officiating…. not to say one team is better than the other.

    • RefCalls-TopFlops staff

      We agree about exposing the officiating. Some folks really get caught up in the idea that refs are biased, or one team is better than another and will shoot the messenger if the numbers don’t support their team. We’ve been trying to show the impact they can have on the outcome of the game. We believe the quality of the calls is random, but overall, can help a team or hurt them.

  • RefCalls-TopFlops staff

    You either didn’t read our post, or don’t know how to read. You are easily fooled. It’s still going up BECAUSE HE LET IT GO UP. It’s a trick. Enough of you and your other comments. Annoying and useless.

    • Pat

      Yeah, what an idiot that guy is.  He can’t even interpret the phrase he mentions, “When the dribbler permits the ball to come to rest.”  That phrase is clearly not intended for dribble drives since that would allow the player to take 2, 3, 4 or 5 steps while he decides to “permit” the ball to come to rest.  He’s basically saying, “Leave it up to the player to decide when he has stopped dribbling.”  Brilliant.  That’s like letting the fox guard the hen house.  Everyone knows from Ref Call’s write-up on this topic that phrase is intended for when the player is dribbling when he’s stationary, or the player is stopping himself and picking up his dribble, like before going out of bounds.