Winderman: NBA should adopt NHL’s “hockey central” foul review

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No sooner did the forearms of Tyson Chandler meet the force of LeBron James then the referees in Game 1 of Heat-Knicks huddled to come up with what has been the consensus answer for flagrant fouls this season: Assume the worst and allow the video to sort it out.

With all Flagrant Foul 2 calls subject to video review, it has become the easy way out.

Call it a Flagrant 1 and play continues, without review. But rule it a Flagrant 2, which Danny Crawford certainly knew it wasn’t, and you not only can downgrade it to a Flagrant 1, but downgrade it to a mere personal foul, as well.

The reality was Chandler was never at risk for automatic Flagrant 2 ejection. Crawford knew it; Chandler knew it.

But to have to go through with the courtside charade is a bit much.

What the NBA needs is go to the NHL’s “hockey central” approach, where all video issues are handled from the central league office by someone who can assess the issue without the emotion of being on scene, alongside peering players and combustible coaches, in front of frenzied fans.

Beyond that, there would be a single standard for all such flagrant-foul determinations, not what Dan Crawford is feeling in Miami, Joey Crawford is feeling in L.A. or Scott Foster is feeling in San Antonio.

It also would speed play to a degree that shot-clock issues and other re-settable timing issues, or even 3-point judgments, could be handled as play is continuing, rather during ensuing stoppages courtside.

With the NHL, there is one voice nightly in Toronto on what is and isn’t a goal.

With almost no overlap of NBA games in the postseason, such timing and judgment issues could be handled by even higher authorities in the league’s New York office rather than by exhausted officials who work without the opportunity to rest their feet.

Heck, have David Stern handle it from his couch.

Particularly with flagrant fouls, decisions that have to be made in the moment, a uniform league standard would level the playing field, when even an NBA neophyte can recognize that some officials are better than others, some more prone to eject than others.

When it comes to ejections, as it is with suspensions, why not handle all such matters from the league office, and allow the referees to sort out more mundane issues, like block-charge?

Ira Winderman writes regularly for NBCSports.com and covers the Heat and the NBA for the South Florida Sun-Sentinel. You can follow him on Twitter at @IraHeatBeat.

Clippers blow 18-point lead, lose in final 2 seconds on putback to Kings (VIDEO)

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The Los Angeles Clippers had a rough go of things against the Sacramento Kings on Sunday. Up by 18 with more than five minutes to go, LA blew their lead and were left to watch as the Kings sealed the game late.

The final possession for Sacramento came on a missed corner 3-pointer by Clippers guard Jamal Crawford. The Kings got the outlet pass out on the rebound, but Ben McLemore took it to the rack and missed. That’s when Willie Cauley-Stein stepped in, cleaned up the board, and put the game-winning shot home with less than two seconds left.

Los Angeles lost in spectacular fashion, and became the only team this season to lose given their game situation.

Here’s a compilation the NBA put together of Sacramento’s epic comeback:

Meanwhile, Chris Paul called it the worst regular season loss of his career.

The Clippers peaked too soon. Like, the first 20 games of the season too soon.

Russell Westbrook throws incredible halfcourt bounce pass vs. Rockets (VIDEO)

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Russell Westbrook had yet another triple-double on Sunday. The Oklahoma City Thunder star notched 13 assists in the loss to the Houston Rockets, 137-125, and one of them came on a nifty pass to teammate Victor Oladipo.

The play happened with the Thunder on the fastbreak early in the third quarter. Westbrook was moving from left-to-right across the middle of the floor with the ball while Oladipo streaked down the right wing.

With the Rockets defense collapsing, Westbrook reached halfcourt and fired a bounce pass that sliced through the opposition.

Oladipo finished with the clean dunk.

Still not sure it beats this one, but I think we’ll have to compare once the season comes to a close.

Kobe Bryant on race for Podoloff Trophy: “We might see our first co-MVPs this year”

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The race between James Harden and Russell Westbrook for the 2017 NBA MVP has narrowed to a two-man race toward the end of the season. The Oklahoma City Thunder star is averaging at triple-double this year, and the Houston Rockets guard is doing things nobody has ever done on a basketball court before.

It’s a tough decision to decide between them, so much so that even former Los Angeles Lakers great and 2008 NBA MVP Kobe Bryant can’t do it.

Speaking on ESPN on Sunday, Bryant said he thought the league might have to just bite the bullet on Westbrook vs. Harden.

“We might see our first co-MVPs this year,” said Bryant.

That would be a huge step for the league, but I’m not entirely sure they would do it. There have been co-NBA All-Star Game MVPs in years past, but never league MVP.

Still, can you decide between Russ and Harden? The Mamba can’t.

Watch Rockets C Nene lead the break, eurostep past Enes Kanter (VIDEO)

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Houston Rockets center Nene is from Brazil, but on Sunday against the Oklahoma City Thunder the South American native went full euro.

On a fastbreak possession, Nene took on Thunder big man Enes Kanter near the rim and absolutely shook him with a nasty eurostep.

The play was so good that it forced Oklahoma City to call a timeout as James Harden and the rest of the Rockets bench met Nene on the court to celebrate.