The Clippers didn’t lose Game 5 against the Thunder due to the call made by the referees with 11.3 seconds remaining, even if you believe that call was incorrect.
The NBA, however, believes the referees on the scene handled it to perfection.
With the Thunder trailing by two, Chris Paul turned the ball over and Reggie Jackson was heading to the basket to tie the game up. Matt Barnes wisely gave the foul, catching Jackson on his right arm — except no foul was called, and the ball appeared to go out of bounds off of Jackson.
The officials ruled it to be Thunder ball, but the replay review appeared to clearly show that Jackson was the last to touch it. The league issued a statement late Wednesday, though, saying essentially that the referees got it right.
“Rod Thorn, NBA President, Basketball Operations, issued the following statement today regarding an instant replay review late in the fourth quarter of the Oklahoma City Thunder’s 105-104 win over the Los Angeles Clippers on May 13, at Chesapeake Energy Arena:
“With 11.3 seconds left in the game, the basketball went out of bounds on the baseline and the referees ruled the ball belonged to the Thunder. The referees then used instant replay to review the play. In order to reverse the call made on the court, there has to be ‘clear and conclusive’ evidence. Since no replay provided such evidence, the play correctly stood as called with the Thunder retaining possession.”
This doesn’t really matter in the grand scheme of things, of course, because had the league gone the other way and admitted the officials got it wrong, that doesn’t change the game’s final outcome.
But it’s disingenuous to say that the replay wasn’t clear and inconclusive, because it was — the ball was last touched by Jackson, and it was evident to everyone watching.