Chicago Bulls' Noah reacts to a call by the referee during their NBA basketball game against the Denver Nuggets in Chicago

Controversial tip-in calls cost Bulls in overtime, Thibodeau is rightfully ticked

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To my eye — and by the NBA rulebook as I read it — there were two illegal tip-ins in the final minute of overtime between the Bulls and Nuggets Monday night.

Only one was reviewed on video. Only one got overturned. The Bulls lost by one point and Tom Thibodeau has every right to be mad.

Let’s start with the rule. Here is the interpretation of the rule direct from the NBA’s video officiating page (which had video examples):

Players are not allowed to touch the ball while any part of the ball remains in the cylinder above the basket ring. On this play, the offensive player taps the ball into the basket while the ball is still in the cylinder above the basket.

Players ARE allowed to tap, touch or rebound a shot attempt when the ball has rolled off of the basket ring and is outside of the imaginary cylinder.

Some people, both national talking heads and commenters online, say that you can touch the ball as it is rolling off the rim. Watching the NBA’s videos and reading that above, it reads to me that you can only touch the missed shot once it is outside the cylinder completely.

In the case of the first tap in, Denver was down one (115-114) with 50 seconds left when Ty Lawson drives the lane and misses the layup. Kosta Koufos comes in and with both hands tips it in — except replays clearly showed the ball was sitting on the rim and over the cylinder when it was tipped. In my mind that is offensive goaltending,

The referees didn’t review it because there was no call on which to base a replay.

Now we come to the Bulls final shot with 5.7 seconds left (the video above has a tip in between the controversial ones, that middle one is not in dispute). Marco Belinelli brought the ball up the left wing and took a hurried, off-balance jumper that was short, but Joakim Noah comes flying in, tipped the ball in and the United Center went crazy.

But it shouldn’t have counted and the refs got it right. Despite what the Bulls’ broadcasters say on the video above, that was an illegal tip in. The ball was on its way down and over the cylinder. The refs got the call right, that basket should not have counted.

The question is: Why did it get reviewed? Unlike the Koufos tip, this was called goaltending at the time (it was drowned out by the crowd). During a Denver timeout it was reviewed and the goaltending call was confirmed. As I said, it’s the correct call. It’s just not fair that only one of those calls can get reviewed.

You can expect an explanation from the league later today on this. But to me, both were illegal tip ins but just one was called. And the Bulls paid the price for that.

Sunday is 16th anniversary of greatest dunk ever: Vince Carter over Frederic Weis

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It was the last game of the group stage of the 2000 Olympic basketball tournament at the Sydney Olympics, the USA was taking on France, another USA win on its way to another gold medal.

But what we all remember is this one play — Vince Carter dunking over the 7’2″ French center Frederic Weis.

Best. Dunk. Ever.

By anyone.

Weis was never the same.

In an impressive career — two-time All-NBA, eight-time All-Star, hours and hours of crazy highlights — this is always going to be the highlight at the top of the list. So we will use the anniversary of this dunk to look at it one more time.

Hat tip to nitramy at NBA Reddit.

Hornets coach Steve Clifford suggests allowing teams to advance ball in final two minutes without timeout

Steve Clifford
AP Photo/Chuck Burton
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The final minutes of a close NBA game rank among the best moments in sports – which is pretty remarkable, considering frequent stoppages interrupt and impede enjoyment of the game.

Clutch play. Timeout. Clutch play. Timeout. Clutch play. Timeout.

Coaches should probably call fewer timeouts, because drawing up a play also allows the defense to set. But timeouts give the offense the option of advancing the inbound spot into the frontcourt, a key advantage. So, teams will keep calling timeouts.

Unless…

Steve Aschburner of NBA.com:

For Charlotte’s Steve Clifford, the ability in the final two minutes of a game to advance the ball without requiring a timeout to be called could speed up the action. That has been used on a trial basis in the D League and in Summer League, and several coaches felt it worked well.

“The game is at an all-time high in popularity, but a lot of people complain about the last two minutes,” Clifford said. “I think it would add a different dimension but it would also be a good thing in addressing our biggest issue.”

Not that the coaches would be willing to lose any of their timeouts, though. They just wouldn’t save them specifically for that purpose.

I’m here for that.

I’m unsurprised control-seeking coaches want to keep all their timeouts, and reducing those seems unlikely, anyway. The NBA pays its bills through commercial breaks.

Would moving those advertising opportunities earlier in the game pay off? Audiences are probably larger in crunch time, but an action-packed closing stretch could hook fans and grow overall audiences. It’s always a difficult decision to forgo maximizing immediate revenue in pursuit of more later.

But I’m fairly certain fans would appreciate the change, which is at least a starting point in considering it.

Kyrie Irving feels validated after hitting game-winning shot to bring title to Cleveland

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Back in July during the pre-Olympics USA Camp in Las Vegas, I asked Kyrie Irving what had changed for him, what was different for him after winning an NBA title. His answer was about the doors it opened, the possibilities that suddenly felt available to him. A month after winning the title he still seemed a little overwhelmed by the experience, and he hadn’t fully processed it yet. Which is completely understandable.

Now, as training camp is set to open for the Cavaliers and their defense of that title, Irving clearly has gotten used to being a champion — and he feels validated. Look at what he told Joe Varden of the Cleveland Plain Dealer.

“Yes, my life’s changed drastically,” Irving told cleveland.com Saturday, during Irving’s friendship walk and basketball challenge downtown for Best Buddies, Ohio — an organization that gives social growth and employment opportunities to people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

“It’s kind of, you’re waiting for that validation from everyone, I guess, to be considered one of the top players in the league at the highest stage,” Irving said. “That kind of changed. I was just trying to earn everyone’s respect as much as I could.”

It’s amazing to think of the impact one shot — Irving’s three over Stephen Curry with 53 seconds left in Game 7 — can have. If he misses, there is less pressure on the Warriors to answer with a three, maybe they come down and get a bucket inside for two (one could argue they should have done that anyway rather than hunt for the three), from there maybe the Warriors win. If so, that could change everything from Kevin Durant‘s summer plans to what the Cavaliers’ roster looks like today — there’s a good chance Cleveland’s lineup would have changed if they lost to the Warriors two Finals in a row.

One shot can have that kind of impact on a player, too.

Kyrie Irving was one of the top five point guards in the NBA for a while, a score first guy but one who had some floor general in him and got some steals. A lot of time seemed to be spent focusing on his flaws defensively and passing. But with that shot, he feels validated. If he carries that confidence into next season, the Cavaliers just got better.

Check out top 50 plays from Kevin Garnett’s Hall of Fame career (VIDEO)

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First Kobe Bryant. Then Tim Duncan.

Now Kevin Garnett. The Hall of Fame class in five years is going to be stacked.

But before we move on from Garnett’s announcement this week that he is retiring after 21 years in the NBA, let’s look back at his greatest plays (compiled by the folks at NBA.com). Enjoy this for 11 minutes rather than watching your NFL fantasy team flounder. Again.