Unfolding the final controversial seconds of a nightmare Raptors loss

Ball Don't Lie

Either way NBA officials ruled on the final play of Sunday night’s Raptors-Kings game, one team was likely leaving the Golden 1 Center unhappy, and Toronto got the short end of the stick in Sacramento.

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With 2.4 seconds remaining, the Kings clung to a 102-99 lead when right-handed Raptors wing Terrence Ross corralled the inbound pass on a broken play and sank a long 3-pointer fading to his left over the outstretched arm of Matt Barnes as the buzzer sounded on the fourth quarter. Tie game.

Or not. The play went back to the NBA’s replay center, and officials ruled the clock should have started when DeMarcus Cousins tipped DeMarre Carroll’s inbound pass, and exactly 2.5 seconds eclipsed between that moment and Ross getting the shot off — just enough to nullify the final shot.

Referee Mike Callahan’s explanation to pool reporter Tim Bontemps of The Washington Post:

It makes sense. “A digital timer on the screen in the replay center, from different angles,” allowed official Zach Zarba to rule that too much time had passed before Ross attempted his game-tying shot.

In essence, “a clock malfunction” was to blame, not the officiating crew.

Either way, Toronto would have preferred a redo on the final play, because maybe Ross would not have taken two dribbles before getting his shot off, had he known he didn’t have the full 2.4 seconds.

They probably deserved a second chance. Naturally, the Raptors were not too happy with the ruling.

After showing his frustration on the court after the game, Raptors coach Dwane Casey was more subdued afterwards. But still not satisfied. “I don’t know where the malfunction came,” he said. I’ve got to hear more than that, because I just watched the same review that they had.” After all, in addition to the clock operator, each referee has the opportunity to start the clock from a belt pack.

Raptors point guard Kyle Lowry chose a different tact. He offered “no comment” after repeated questions about the final play, and in lieu of a fine for criticizing officials, he added, “I’m going to save my money.” (Interestingly, that’s the second time in four games he used that “save my money” line.)

And Toronto forward Patrick Patterson had a third approach, tweeting he was “looking forward to the apology from the NBA,” although “it won’t do sh– for the outcome.” He even tagged the league’s official Twitter account, so it seems he was a little less worried about a potential forthcoming fine.

Raptors forward Patrick Patterson is “looking forward to the apology from the NBA. (Twitter)
Raptors forward Patrick Patterson is “looking forward to the apology from the NBA. (Twitter)

Obviously, the Kings would have been equally upset had Ross’ shot been ruled good or a redo of the final play ended in the same result. But perhaps allowing the latter to be possible is a better option than presupposing how the final 2.4 seconds would have played out had the clock started on time.

Asked if the team has any recourse, Casey said, “That’s what we’re going to find out.” There is precedence for the NBA granting an appeal of this kind. The Atlanta Hawks and Miami Heat replayed the final 51.9 seconds of a 2008 game later in the season after it was ruled Shaquille O’Neal was incorrectly whistled for a sixth foul. Before that, the NBA hadn’t replayed part of a game since 1983.

And there may be even more reason for the league to grant an appeal. Going back to the previous possession, Cousins grabbed a rebound with somewhere between 27.4 and 27 seconds remaining.

On the other end, the Raptors forced a 24-second shot clock violation to set up the final play, meaning the Raptors should have taken over with anywhere from three and 3.4 seconds left. That would have been enough time for Ross to make his last-second shot — with half a second to spare.

So, yeah, the NBA ended up in a lose-lose situation on Sunday night, and Toronto bore the brunt of it.

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Ben Rohrbach is a contributor for Ball Don’t Lie and Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at rohrbach_ben@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!

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