The Denver Nuggets are hoping for a do-over and the NBA’s first replayed game in eight years.
After the league admitted referees got a last-second call wrong in the Nuggets’ 108-107 loss to the Memphis Grizzlies on Tuesday, the Nuggets have filed a protest over the result.
With a one-point lead and four seconds remaining in the game, the Nuggets turned the ball over and Grizzlies point guard Mike Conley took it down court to attempt a game-winning layup.
However, as Conley went up for the shot, he lost control of the ball under the hoop with less than a second to play. The refs reviewed the play to see who touched the ball last.
On replay, it looked like Nuggets guard Emmanuel Mudiay tipped the ball as it was going out of bounds. The refs gave possession to Memphis.
On the ensuing possession, the Grizzlies lobbed it up to Marc Gasol for the game-winning shot at the buzzer.
However, the next day, in the NBA’s “Last Two Minute Report,” the league ruled that the referees made the wrong call, and Denver should have been given the ball. With .7 seconds remaining and a one-point league, Denver would have virtually secured the win. Instead, they lost a tough game at the buzzer.
After the NBA admitted their mistake, the Nuggets filed a protest. President Josh Kroenke released a statement, saying:
“Commissioner [Adam] Silver has done a fantastic job championing league transparency and accuracy for teams and fans alike with the addition of in-game video review and the NBA’s instant replay center. However, in this case, a reviewable non-judgment call regarding possession was not sufficiently reviewed, and considering the time and score, we feel as if the incorrect ruling had a direct impact on the final outcome of the game.”
Nuggets head coach Mike Malone was furious days later, after the report was released, saying:
“The replay center is there to make sure those mistakes don’t happen. All I’ll say on it is this: The replay center failed us the other night. We lost a game — granted, we did a lot of things during that game that didn’t help us win — but when it comes down to a review by the replay center to determine whose ball it is and the ball is awarded to Memphis when it should have been awarded to us, and they therefore take advantage of the situation and score, that’s a very tough pill to swallow.”
Malone also said replaying the last .7 seconds would be the best outcome, but admitted it was unlikely.
The NBA hasn’t replayed the end of a game since the 2007-08 season. According to ESPN, on December 19, 2007, the Miami Heat lost 117-11 to the Atlanta Hawks in overtime when referees incorrectly ruled that Heat center Shaquille O’Neal had fouled out of the game when he only had five fouls. The Heat protested, and the final minute of the game game was replayed three months later. By then, however, O’Neal had been traded to the Phoenix Suns. The Hawks won 114-111.
It’s difficult to know whether the NBA will oblige the Nuggets and have the final second replayed. However, it’s tough to argue against the Nuggets’ point. While, as Malone acknowledges, every play up until that point could have affected the outcome, based on the NBA’s ruling, the Nuggets should have had the ball back with the lead and little time remaining. Instead, they lost possession and the very next play lost them the game.
If the NBA decides to grant them a replay, it surely seems as though the Nuggets will pick up a win while the Grizzlies will lose one.
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