Giannis Antetokounmpo of the Milwaukee Bucks sealed the Oklahoma City Thunder’s fate with a last-second jam on Wednesday night, putting his team up two with 0.9 left to play. The Bucks won the game 97-95 despite a Herculean 40-point effort from Thunder guard Russell Westbrook, but there is just one problem—Antetokounmpo stepped out of bounds on the play and officials missed it.
The Thunder should have been given possession with about three seconds remaining, with a chance to either win the game or at least send it to overtime. The play was not reviewable because there was no whistle to trigger a review and it did not meet criteria laid out in the official NBA rulebook’s instant replay guidelines.
Royce Young of ESPN reports that the NBA’s competition committee “will add that type of play to the agenda for discussion at its meeting in March,” as stated by league spokesman Tim Frank, with hopes of figuring out what can be done about it in the future.
The competition committee will look at a number of solutions to such a situation, Frank said. If any change is made, it would not be implemented until the 2018-19 season. It is also possible no changes will be made.
The Portland Trail Blazers are not unfamiliar with the sting of losing on a nonreviewable play. Their March 11 overtime loss to the Washington Wizards last season came on a Markieff Morris buzzer-beater, prior to which the forward clearly stepped out of bounds.
(But Markieff Morris was out of bounds and the refs say this shot was not reviewable…..)pic.twitter.com/sKU2n9Upbi— Def Pen Hoops (@DefPenHoops) March 12, 2017
In evaluating potential solutions to this problem, the committee must be careful to address the issue at hand without establishing precedence that may otherwise introduce arbitrary reviews to a game’s conclusion. Nevertheless, the process needs to change so that plainly incorrect no-calls do not influence outcomes.