Kevin Love’s big shot to beat the Clippers may have been the big story in the NBA on Friday, but there was another play near the end of regulation in the game between the Pacers and the Warriors that was just as exciting.
Only with that one, the NBA admits the officials made a horrible mistake.
Here’s how the play transpired: Game tied at 91, shot clock and game clock virtually in sync. Monta Ellis dribbles it down at the top of the three-point arc with George Hill defending. Ellis makes his move with about five seconds left, but Hill appears to get the steal, and goes for the and-1 lay-in at the other end.
Watching the replay, however, it’s clear that Hill’s foot, and not his quick hands, deserve the credit for the steal. And since it was an intentional gesture with the foot, it should have been the Warriors’ ball out of bounds instead of game over in the Pacers’ favor.
The NBA admitted as much in a statement on Saturday, via my man Matt Steinmetz of CSNBayArea.com:
With 5.4 seconds remaining in the Indiana-Golden State game on Jan. 20, Pacers guard George Hill intentionally kicked the ball away from Warriors guard Monta Ellis during his cross over dribble. According to rule no. 10, Section IV.b, kicking the ball or striking it with any part of the leg is a violation when it is an intentional act. The officials missed the kicked ball violation which should have resulted in a deadball situation and Golden State inbounding the ball on the sideline nearest the spot of the violation.
In real time, and given the position of the closest official (behind Hill in front of the Warriors’ bench), it was likely impossible to tell that Hill had made that ever-so-slight move forward with the right foot, just as Ellis tried to cross over, which allowed him to get the steal. And certainly, this admission from the league is too little, too late as far as the Warriors and their fans are concerned. But more and more, as the league continues to review and admit to these mistakes going forward, it’s a positive step in general for the way things may transpire in the future.