Steve Javie, Derrick Stafford, Joe Forte: Sometimes the zebras get it right, sometimes they get it wrong. Very wrong. Such was the case last night in Detroit, when the game clock "froze" long enough for Chauncey Billups to beat the third quarter buzzer with momentum-changing three-pointer.
Here's the official description from the Orlando Sentinal: "The Pistons took the ball out of bounds with 5.1 seconds left, but the clock stopped at 4.8 and again at 4.1 before Billups made the three-point shot. The Magic bench erupted in protest, and officials huddled while TNT replays showed it took 5.22 seconds for the ball to leave Billups' hands, meaning Billups couldn't have gotten the shot off in time. But officials ruled the basket good, and they put .5 of a second back on the clock..."
Thanks to Odenized, we have lots of video evidence of this debacle. Here's the initial brouhaha.
Here are the TNT broadcasters showing the have a greater aptidude than the men who are paid to officiate the game.
And now, the reactions. Surprisingly enough, the Pistons don't seem too broken up about it, but who wants to bet that Rasheed Wallace would have gotten tossed if the same thing had happened to the Pistons?
The league and its stupid rules: Lead official Steve Javie declined comment after the game. But really, what else could he have done? The league's replay rules don't allow the officials to review plays in order to figure out when the shot clock started, should have started, should have stopped, etc. My question is: Why the hell not? If it's permissible to use replay at the end of games to determine whether a shot came before or after the buzzer, why not put in some kind of addendum stating that it can be used in situations like this? We can stuff astronauts into a flying tin can and send it to the moon. We have the technology. Why not, you know, use it?
Here's an interesting question posed by Brazil Thrill's Shot Was Blocked By KG on my NBA Closer column: "So will David Stern force Detroit and Orlando to replay the end of the third quarter and the entire fourth quarter of game two? If he thought a regular season game was important enough to warrant a partial re-match, why not apply the same rule during the playoffs? Or at the very least give Orlando 3 points to start with on game 3." An interesting point, eh? But I doubt Stern will do diddly squat. Because that could possibly get in the way of a Pistons-Celtics or Pistons-LeBron matchup in the Eastern Confernece Finals. Not that I'm conspiracy theorizing or anything...
The Magic's butter fingers: Memo to Stan Van Gundy: Either tell your players not to coat their hands in PAM before the game, or invest in a gross of Stickum. Orlando committed 19 turnovers that were transmogrified into 22 points for the Pistons. Worst of all, 17 of those 19 turnovers were bobbled off the hands of Rashard Lewis (6), Hedo Turkoglu (6) and Dwight Howard (5). A team cannot win if its main men keep gift-wrapping the ball and giving it away like a department store Santa.
The Orlando bench: Here is the sum total of their contribution to last night's game: 4 points on 1-for-7 shooting, 4 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 steal, and 8 fouls in almost 46 minutes. Holy wow, that is bad. And I mean 1986-87 Celtics bench bad.
Rip Hamilton: The Phantom once claimed that he knows whether a shot is going in before he even gets the ball. So why does he ever miss? If it's not going to go in, don't take the shot, right? Apparently not, since he was 4-for-18 last night.
Theo Ratliff: This guy inexplicably started talking trash to Rashard Lewis and the rest of the Magic after Game 1, which seems kind of strange coming from someone who barely ever plays. Did he back it up in Game 2? [Insert laugh track here] Uh, no. The line: zero points, 0-for-1 shooting, 1 rebound, zero assists, 1 blocked shot, 1 foul, 9 minutes. My advice? Zip the lip, Theo.
San Antonio Spurs: They looked good last night...for a half. Then the wheels came off in the third quarter, during which they were outscored 36-18. Frankly, they looked old, slow and wholly incapable of staying in front of the runnin' gunnin' Hornets. It's like the Spurs' methodical, slow-it-down-to-a-snail's-pace methodology finally backfired on them, sort of like people thought it might backfire against the Suns. Experience often overcomes youth, until experience's age falls victim to youth's fresh and tireless legs.
Gregg Popovich was so concerned -- and probably pissed off -- that at one point he yanked the starters (and foul-plagued sixth man Manu Ginobili) in favor of Ime Udoka, Brent Barry, Fabricio Oberto, Robert Horry and Jacque Vaughn. And if that's not a slap to the chops, I don't know what is. But you can't blame him. Duncan had (I think) around 11 points at the time (although he would finish with 18). Tony Parker shot 5-for-14. Michael Finley was 2-for-7. Bruce Bowen was 1-for-7. And Manu Ginobili finished 4-for-10 (he also had a game-high 5 turnovers). You could argue that, had it not been for Brent Barry (14 points, 4-for-5 from three-point range), the Spurs would have been beaten by 30.
Damon Stoudemire: As Basketbawful reader Josh pointed out, Mighty Mouse continued his championship piggyback game with a three trillion. Although it's starting to look like he might have been better off signing with the Hornets.
David West: The man's a straight-up baller, but he needs to leave the taunting on the streets where it belongs. First he punked Dirk Nowitzki -- which was pretty classless, even if it was kind of funny -- and now he's taunting...Fabricio Oberto?! That's really not necessary. (Video from Odenized.)
Reggie Miller: Reggie continues his assault on verbiosity, uh, verbalism, er, wordiology...forget it. I've been listening to Reggie too much, apparently. As Deadspin reader Tubesteak Terrorist pointed out: "According to Reggie Miller last night, David West is 'ambidextrious.'"
And there's more, this time from Rob of BigDiction.net: "Ha. No more than 6 minutes into the Spurs Hornets game Monday after a Peja three-pointer: Kevin Harlan says 'And he has been shooting at a 60% clip this postseason!,' to which Reggie Miller replies 'And that's a big plus for him.' No shit, Reggie. No shit."
And here's some retroctive Reggie from last weekend, courtesy of Basketbawful reader Nick: "In Hornets-Spurs Game 1, they had to delay the game because after Hugo the Hornet jumped through a ring of fire they couldn't put out the fire and had to use extinguishers. After they resumed play, the players were falling on the court because of the remains. Reggie Miller had this to say: 'The official is calling for the crew to come out because the players are slippering all over.' That's funny in itself, but then I looked up the word slippering. A slippering is a metonymical term for the act of smacking the buttocks, or the hands, with a slipper as a form of corporal punishment." I...really don't know what to say. Other than: Thanks for the mammaries, Reggie.
SI.com: Basketbawful reader MC Welk thinks the caption writers for the Sports Illustrated Web site are a little confused about who the Lakers are playing right now. "Lakers did a good job of getting past the Suns (right, SI?)."
The ESPN Scoreboard: Basketbawful reader Sky Flakes things that the ESPN scoreboard is almost as confused as Reggie Miller. Note how the Spurs spotted the Hornets an extra 5 points during halftime.
Then they upped it to 8 points, just for kicks.
Then the math started to go a little fuzzy. As Mr. Flakes put it: "I didn't know that 23 + 20 + 0 = 49." Me neither. But then, I failed 3rd grade math. Damn multiplication tables...