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

April 28th, 2011 2 comments

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.

Thunder-Nuggets (Game 3): Close game at the end had a few plays that could have made it closer

April 25th, 2011 2 comments

Here are 3 plays from the fourth quarter of the Denver-Oklahoma City game played Saturday night that could have had an impact in changing the outcome of the game (OKC won 97-94 and has taken a commanding 3-0 lead in the series).

The ref crew from this game consisted of Derrick Stafford (#49), Eric Lewis (#42), and Jason Phillips (#23). Game 4 of this series will be played Monday night in Denver where the Thunder can close-out and sweep the series.

On Monday afternoon, we’ll be posting a few clips of calls from the other playoff games played Sunday, namely Celtics-Knicks, Magic-Hawks, and Lakers-Hornets.

Nuggets-Thunder (Game 2): No ref controversy, but examples of one bad call and a good one

April 21st, 2011 6 comments

In Wednesday’s first playoff game, Oklahoma City easily handled Denver 106-89. So there weren’t that many important calls that were blown that could have changed the outcome of the game. However, we did want to feature a couple of intriguing calls in the video below.

The first one has Denver’s J.R. Smith driving the lane, getting hacked on the arm, but no call being made by the closest ref to the action, Rodney Mott (#71). Through our watching lots of video of ref calls, for some reason most ref crews subconsciously put the responsibility of making a call like this on the ref closet to the play along the baseline, although any ref can call it. It just goes to show there’s some human psychology involved when other refs are reluctant to call a foul and “show up” another ref that is closer to the action, in our opinion.

The second play in the video shows Russell Westbrook pushing off in mid-air. We’ve seen this kind of call get missed alot (it is a difficult one to make at times), but Monty McCutchen (#13) got it right, and he’s farther away from the play than Mott is. Analyst Mike Fratello states that two officials got it right, but we slowed the video down and it was McCutchen who blew his whistle first. Perhaps after the first play that Mott missed, McCutchen took it upon himself to make the call on this play regardless of where he was situated.

From our observations, we see countless times where one ref will signal a violation in reaction to a fellow ref who has already done it order to provide support. We don’t have a problem with that, but Fratello’s claim that both refs got it right is a difficult one to prove, and is therefore irrelevant.

Nuggets-Thunder (Game 1): Refs miss goaltending violation that gives OKC late lead

April 18th, 2011 1 comment

Last night during the Denver-Oklahoma City game, there was a controversial no-call that announcer Mike Fratello was jumping on the refs for not calling, and Kenny Smith and Charles Barkley were ridiculing the refs on the post-game show that it was a violation that should have been called.

Well, all of them were half right.

Our analysis of the play (video below) where OKC’s Kendrick Perkins tips in a basket that could have been a goaltending violation — based off reading the official NBA rulebook — reveals that it was NOT a violation if you’re just looking at the aspect of the player touching the net while tipping in a ball.

HOWEVER, we do think it was goaltending simply because the ball was still above the imaginary cylinder when it was touched, regardless of the net being touched while doing so. As a result, the refs missed the call, which was huge since it gave the Thunder a 102-101 lead with 1:06 remaining. OKC went on to win the game.

The refs who were working the game were Steve Javie (#29), Zach Zarba (#55), and Bill Kennedy (#58).

I can understand that it’s tough for the refs to see real-time if a ball is above the cylinder or not when it’s touched. With the luxury of the video replay (the angle from above the basket), it clearly shows that it was in the cylinder.

You would think in the last two minutes of a game, the refs could review the instant replay, but believe it or not, this is not a reviewable play. We believe it should be – the refs need help in crucial situations like this! What do you think?

It’s a very rare play to see a player so brazen to go through the net to try to tip-in a ball since the chances of getting called for goaltending are very high, so your first instinct is to think touching the net like this is a violation.
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