Giannis Antetokounmpo’s impossibly long limbs and arms have allowed him to defy the laws of physics, but on Friday night, he challenged the dimensions of an NBA court by going beyond 94 feet, stepping out of bounds while driving baseline and added insult to injury by posterizing Russell Westbrook for the game-winning dunk. His basket gave the Milwaukee Bucks a 97-95 lead over the Oklahoma City Thunder with just 1.3 ticks remaining.
Giannis Antetokounmpo appears to step out of bounds on the game-winning play.
Refs did not review this. pic.twitter.com/8vZHnzfVg3
— Def Pen Hoops (@DefPenHoops) December 30, 2017
The illegal basket ended an impressive night by Westbrook, who scored 40 points, on an inauspicious note. The Thunder trailed by 20 points in the second quarter, but Westbrook led the rally and drilled a 3-pointer to knot it up at 95 in the final 4.7 seconds.
Officials have a difficult job, but that is a mighty big foot in white sneakers on a black sideline for an official to miss. Officials Derek Stafford, Ben Taylor and Leon Wood refused to review the play because they were not allowed to according to limitations on NBA instant replay reviews.
Referees can only initiate a review on a called out-of-bounds play (for example, not one where an out-of-bounds might have occurred) and only those involving doubt as to which player caused the ball to go out (not those, for example, where a player stepped on the line).
In addition to determining which player caused the ball to go out-of-bounds, referees also look to confirm whether:
The game clock expired before the ball went out-of-bounds or the amount of time to put on the clock,
Wood was the official with the best vantage point right behind Antetokounmpo on the baseline, but it was Stafford who issued an explanation afterwards.
Official Derrick Stafford on the final sequence via a pool reporter: “In any reviewable matter, there has to be a whistle called on the floor. There was no whistle blown for the play, so we couldn’t review it.”
— Royce Young (@royceyoung) December 30, 2017
That’s a rule which needs to be revisited as soon as possible. There’s no reason a violation that blatant should go ignored because of a technicality in the final seconds. Paul George, who sat out the night to rest a sore left knee was just as perplexed as the rest of the viewing audience about the play that snapped Oklahoma City’s seven-game winning streak.
Wow?! No travel OR out of bounds huh?
— Paul George (@Yg_Trece) December 30, 2017
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