Wednesday night had quite the controversy in the NBA. In a close game in the fourth quarter with less than a second left, a clock issue in the game between the Orlando Magic and the Los Angeles Lakers triggered a jump ball.
The only problem? The NBA says the Magic were correct in assuming they should have retained possession of the basketball.
The situation came with 0.6 seconds left on the clock and the Magic inbounding. Orlando put the ball in play, but action was stopped due to the clock issue. Officials then determined that the clock did need to be reset, and that rules dictated a jump ball was necessary.
In the Last 2 Minute Report released on Thursday, the NBA said that since the ball was still in the air and not technically out of Orlando’s possession the Magic should have been given the ball at the sideline a second time.
On the inbound pass, referees were reasonably certain that there was a clock malfunction and triggered an Instant Replay under Rule 13.1.a.5. After review, it is confirmed that the game clock was inadvertently started by the referee crew and that time expired before the ball was touched. The clock is correctly reset to 0:00.6. However, since the pass was still in the air when the clock expired, the ball was still in ORL’s possession and thus ORL should have retained possession on the sideline at the nearest spot. Had the ball been touched by LAL prior to the expiration of the clock, it would have been considered a loose ball and the jump ball ruling would have been correct
The real impact of the Magic scoring and winning Wednesday is next to nil — Orlando is second from the bottom in the Eastern Conference and the Lakers aren’t making the playoffs out West.
Still, fair is fair and the misinterpretation in a year in which referees and players have been at constant odds with each other is another thing to add to the list as the league examines its quality control in game management this summer.