The protest focuses on a putback by Hawks power forward John Collins that gave Atlanta a four-point lead with 8.4 seconds remaining, essentially sealing the game. The officiating crew originally called goaltending on Trae Young’s layup attempt. That call was overturned after a video review, but the referees ruled that it was an “inadvertent whistle” and counted Collins’ basket.
The Mavs contend that the game should be replayed from the point of the incorrect goaltending call, according to sources. In that case, the game would resume with a jump ball with 9.7 seconds remaining and the Hawks leading by two points.
It is the second time this season that a team has protested a game. Commissioner Adam Silver declined the Houston Rockets’ protest of a 135-133 double-overtime loss to the San Antonio Spurs, when a breakaway dunk by James Harden with 7:50 remaining in regulation wasn’t counted because the officiating crew mistakenly believed the ball didn’t go through the basket.
In its ruling, the NBA agreed with the Rockets’ contention that referees misapplied the rules. However, Silver determined that the Rockets had sufficient time to overcome the error “during the remainder of the fourth quarter and two subsequent overtime periods and thus the extraordinary remedy of granting a game protest was not warranted.”
The most recent example of teams replaying part of a game occurred on March 8, 2008, between the Miami Heat and Atlanta Hawks. In their previous game on Dec. 19, the Hawks unofficially won 117-111 in overtime, but the official scorer incorrectly ruled that Shaquille O’Neal fouled out, so they had to replay the final 51.9 seconds when the two teams met next.
Following the Mavs’ loss to the Hawks, Dallas owner Mark Cuban ranted about the refereeing on Twitter.
“So they call a goaltend,” Cuban wrote. “They literally blew the whistle that it was a goaltend. There was a putback after the whistle. After review they said no goaltend but count the basket? WTF is that? That’s NBA officiating.”
In a follow-up tweet, Cuban said, “1 of the refs told us it was an inadvertent whistle, so it was not goaltending. Doesn’t matter that people stopped. They thought the whistle came after the putback. So the basket counted. So what where they reviewing if it wasn’t a goaltend?”
Crew chief Rodney Mott explained the call after the game.
“The ball was blocked and reviewed,” Mott told a pool reporter. “The ball hit the rim, so it was deemed an inadvertent whistle because it was ruled a good block. By rule, it’s an inadvertent whistle. It’s Rule 2. Because [Collins] was in his shooting motion when my whistle blew, it’s deemed a continuation, so therefore, the basket counts.”
Cuban has been fined more than $2 million by the league over the years for his public criticism of officiating.
“Refs have bad games,” he tweeted. “Crews have bad games. But this isn’t a single game issue. This is the same s— that has been going on for 20 years. Hire former refs who think they know how to hire, train and manage. Realize 2 years later they can’t. Repeat.”