This was an odd play to say the least, but one that ultimately resulted in the officials doing the right thing.
With 8:57 to play in the third quarter of Tuesday night’s game between the Kings and the Timberwolves, DeMarcus Cousins came down the lane and collided with Kevin Love on his way to attempting a shot. The baseline official, seeing the play from Love’s vantage point, saw it as a charge, but the outside official looking at it from Cousins’ perspective ruled it as a blocking violation.
It looked to me as if Love was there in plenty of time and was planted outside the restricted area, but these are 50-50 plays that happen multiple times per game, and in a split-second when the decision needs to be made, it’s usually easy to make an argument that the call could go either way.
In this case, with both officials having what they believed was the proper angle to make the call, and with neither wavering on their initial decision in the slightest, the conclusion was to assess a double-foul, and to jump the ball up at center court to determine possession.
If this seems strange, that’s because it is. Normally one referee can persuade the other that his call was the correct one, and a decision between the three officials can be made in favor of one team or the other. In the rare instance that an agreement can’t be reached, as was the case on this particular play, the officials are to do exactly what they did in Sacramento.
Rob Mahoney of SI.com dug up the passage in the NBA rule book that applies to these situations:
RULE NO. 12—FOULS AND PENALTIES
Section VI—Double Fouls
f. If a double foul occurs as a result of a difference in opinion by the officials, no points can be scored and play shall resume with a jump ball at the center circle between any two opponents in the game at that time. No substitute may participate in the jump ball.
It was a strange call to be sure, and one that we’re not likely to see all that often — especially in block-charge situations, where a two-thirds majority decision between the officials can almost always be reached.