IT HAPPENED! THE NBA ADMITS ERROR. I posted here four days ago about the NBA’s announcement that it would make public its review of calls by referees in the last two minutes of a game. I said that: “I always doubted that this would happen.” Well, it’s happened, and in an important game. This article by Calvin Watkins on the ESPN website describes the new NBA daily “Last Two Minutes” report on a game played on March 4 between the Memphis Grizzlies and the Houston Rockets. The game was important because Memphis and Houston are neck and neck for second seed in the Western Conference playoffs. The score was tied with four seconds to go in regulation. The league’s report said that Zach Randolph should have been called for fouling Houston’s James Harden on a drive to the basket. No foul was called. Memphis won the game with a basket with less than a second to play.

Interestingly, the league said that out of ten calls in the last two minutes, three were incorrect.

Referees have historically been reluctant to call fouls at the end of a game. They will have to change to make the rulings in the last two minutes of a game conform to the rulings in the rest of the game.

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  1. Nick says:

    I have always disagreed with the notion that the rules change at the very end of a game. I have heard it justified by saying that you “don’t want the referee deciding the game.” The problem is, that operates on the assumption that a foul called is somehow more of an influence than omitting a foul that SHOULD be called.

    Never thought that was persuasive in the slightest or made any sense at all.

    Also got into an argument with a teacher in high school about something similar. I said a team – who lost by one point – was robbed, because a team was granted a three pointer when the shooter’s foot was on the line. The teacher just kept repeating, “If you’re that much better you should win anyway.”

    Completely unpersuasive to me. The win condition in basketball is that you need to outscore your opponent by one point or more. If you input the correct effort / skill to deserve that outcome, that’s the outcome you should get. It does not say, “You need to win so convincingly that even the referees can’t influence it.”

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