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The Raptors Got Screwed Out Of A Game-Tying Buzzer-Beater

Photo credit: Steve Yeater/AP

Toronto Raptors wing Terrence Ross sent last night’s game against the Sacramento Kings into overtime with this buzzer-beating three:

At least he thought he did. After a long replay review, NBA replay officials in Secaucaus, NJ determined that the clock malfunctioned and started late, and therefore Ross didn’t actually get his shot off before the buzzer sounded. Game over.


When the Raptors inbounded the ball, there were 2.4 seconds left in the clock. Guarding DeMarre Carroll, DeMarcus Cousins tipped the attempted pass to Ross, which should’ve triggered the clock to start. But it didn’t immediately, and Ross gathered and fired home. After the game, the head referee told the pool reporter that replay officials determined 2.5 seconds had elapsed between Cousins tipping the pass and the ball leaving Ross’s hand. Thus, no basket.

I’m not really sure how this should have been handled, other than the fact that the clock should have started when Cousins tipped the ball. It wouldn’t have been fair if the game went to overtime on a shot that shouldn’t have counted, and it isn’t fair that Ross and the Raptors were supposed to magically know that there were actually 0.5 or so fewer seconds on the clock. After scouring the rulebook I can’t really find anything that definitively supports or contradicts what the referees did; since the review took a number of minutes and went back to Secaucaus, I assume the NBA has some justification for it that they’ll release later today.

The biggest takeaway here is something that is increasingly becoming clear across sports, which is the fallacy that replay will rid sports of mistakes. Instead, replay turns sports fans into sports rulebook lawyers, Zaprudering clips frame-by-frame to determine if something took 2.4 or 2.5 seconds, and getting indignant that the clock operator didn’t immediately notice and react to Cousins tipping the ball, even though the announcers and most fans didn’t notice until watching a replay.

After the game, Raptors players took varying tacks with the media. Kyle Lowry didn’t want to touch the play with a ten-foot-pole:


While Patrick Patterson decided he could afford the inevitable $25,000 or $50,000 fine:


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About the author

Kevin Draper

Reporter at the New York Times

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