We don’t often get do-overs in professional sports. But we’re going to see one in the G League next month, thanks to some late-game confusion over how teams are allowed to use timeouts in the NBA’s developmental junior circuit.
The Santa Cruz Warriors (the G League affiliate of the NBA’s Golden State Warriors) fell to the Iowa Wolves (the minor-league club of the Minnesota Timberwolves) on Jan. 19, 116-113, despite the Warriors (or “Sea Dubs,” as they’re often called) getting 43 points and 11 assists from two-way point guard Quinn Cook. Santa Cruz had a chance to take a lead in the late stages, holding possession with 17.5 seconds left and the score knotted at 111, preparing to trigger an inbounds from under their own basket.
And then, things got confusing:
With Iowa blanketing the Warriors’ baseline out-of-bounds action, inbounder Cook had nowhere to go with the ball. Not wanting to pick up a five-second violation that would hand the ball back to the Wolves, Cook called a timeout. There was just one problem with that: the Warriors didn’t have any timeouts left, meaning the former Duke product found himself in a real classic Chris Webber-type situation.
Except! The Warriors argued that they did have a timeout available — just not a regular ol’ garden variety timeout. Instead, Santa Cruz’s players and coaches argued that Cook was trying to use the Warriors’ “reset” timeout, a new addition to the G League’s rulebook that replaced the “advance” rule introduced a few years back to allow teams to stop play, make substitutions and move the ball to half-court in close-and-late situations without using a timeout.
Here’s how the G League defines those “reset” timeouts:
“Reset Timeouts: Each team will be entitled to a “Reset Timeout” in the final two minutes of the fourth quarter and final two minutes of any overtime period. “Reset Timeouts” do not allow teams to huddle, but otherwise mirror standard timeouts, allowing teams to advance the ball (when applicable) and make unlimited substitutions. If either team huddles or prevents the ball from immediately being put back into play, it will result in a delay of game being issued to the offending team. The “Reset Timeout” replaces the “Advance Rule” which had been used in the NBA G League the past two seasons.
I’m not entirely clear on why the refs didn’t allow the Warriors to use that timeout — maybe it’s because they were already in the frontcourt, thus negating the “advance the ball” provision of the rule? — but whatever the case, they didn’t. Instead of getting another crack to inbound the ball in a tie game, the Warriors got called for an “excessive timeouts” technical, allowing Iowa’s Melo Trimble to shoot a free throw to give the Wolves a one-point lead. The Warriors weren’t able to get back on the right side of the score line, as Iowa finished off a three-point lead.
After reviewing the incident, the Warriors decided to lodge a formal protest with the G League, something that basically never works at the NBA level. And yet, on Monday, we learned that Santa Cruz’s pleas had found friendly ears in the league office:
The Warriors protested the game because they were incorrectly assessed a technical foul for calling an excessive timeout with 17.5 seconds remaining in the game when, instead, a reset timeout should have been granted. The technical foul resulted in a successful free throw by Iowa, a loss of possession and subsequent intentional foul by Santa Cruz, and two more successful free throws by Iowa – putting the Wolves ahead 114-111. The sequence caused by the incorrect technical foul clearly and unfairly impacted the outcome of the game.
And so: do-over!
The league’s decision will result in the replay of the final 17.5 seconds of the game with the score tied at 111-111 and Santa Cruz in possession of the ball. […] The replay will occur on March 23 in Santa Cruz before the teams’ scheduled 10 p.m. ET game.
That replay could have a significant impact on the G League postseason. The top six teams from each conference make the playoffs, with division winners getting the top three seeds and wild card teams getting the final three. As it stands right now, Iowa’s got a half-game lead atop the Midwest Division, slotting the Wolves into the No. 3 playoff seed, while Santa Cruz is three games back in the Pacific, and a game out of the last wild card spot … but Iowa’s 18-14 and Santa Cruz is 18-16, meaning the outcome of that replayed 17.5 seconds and the new game that follows could go a long way toward determining both teams’ playoff hopes. That’s a pretty neat bit of drama to hang on a do-over game the likes of which NBA watchers haven’t seen in just over 10 years.
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