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Westbrook on whether he stepped on out-of-bounds vs. Sixers originally appeared on NBC Sports Washington
It was by no means the reason why the Wizards lost Game 1 to the Philadelphia 76ers, but it did loom large at the time. With 37.1 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter, Russell Westbrook was called out of bounds for stepping on the sideline when trying to retrieve a pass thrown wide by teammate Daniel Gafford.
The call was upheld by an official review. While some camera angles raised doubt over whether Westbrook's heel actually came down to touch the line, there was apparently not enough evidence to overturn it.
Fortunately for the Wizards, there was a "ball don't lie" course correction just 13 seconds later, as Joel Embiid dribbled off his leg for a turnover. Still, with 13 seconds lost, it's fair to wonder what would have been, given the Wizards were only down five points when the call was made on Westbrook.
"Maybe there was a different [angle]. The camera angle I saw, it was like the Sean Elliot play years ago. Us old guys remember that," head coach Scott Brooks said.
TNT analyst Grant Hill referenced that play as well when Elliott kept his heels above the out-of-bounds line while sinking the game-winning 3-pointer for the San Antonio Spurs in Game 2 of the 1999 Western Conference Finals vs. the Portland Trail Blazers. The Spurs swept the series and went on to win their first NBA title
"Unless there’s a camera on the floor that you can see his shoe touching the white line," Brooks said. "They obviously looked at a bunch of different angles. They called what they called."
Westbrook was shown on the NBC Sports Washington broadcast watching the scoreboard intently as replays were shown at Wells Fargo Center. Afterwards, though, he wouldn't weigh in on whether he thought it was the correct call.
"It don't matter now. It doesn't matter," he said.
Whether Westbrook actually touched the sideline or not, it went down as his sixth turnover in the box score. That, along with his 7-for-17 shooting line, helped offset his 16 points and 15 rebounds.
Referee Eric Lewis was asked by a pool reporter for official word on why the call was upheld. His response was an expected one.
"In the conversation with the replay center official there was not enough evidence to overturn the on-court ruling," he said.
Again, you could argue it didn't matter much in the outcome of the game, given Embiid's turnover. But the timing still left doubts after what was a close and important game.