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Sports News Without Fear, Favor or Compromise

Tim Donaghy On Game 1: The Make-Up Call That Sealed A Spurs Win

Illustration for article titled Tim Donaghy On Game 1: The Make-Up Call That Sealed A Spurs Win

As he has done for us in years past, Tim Donaghy, the owner and operator of and a former NBA referee who spent 11 months in prison for relaying inside information to gamblers, will review the performance of his former colleagues during the NBA Finals. Here's a quarter-by-quarter break down of Game 1, with accompanying video.


First Quarter

10:56: A cheap foul on Haslem. The officials will call fouls like this in the first five minutes of the game, hoping to set a tone of non-aggressive play. The offensive player (Parker) causes most of the contact on this drive to the basket.


7:46: Missed call on Duncan. Duncan is set to take a charge. Wade goes into and through him prior to the pass. Yet Wade is given two shots, and he never shot the ball.

6:43: Illegal screen set by Duncan. Duncan is moving when he makes contact with the defender. The officials ignore it because they remember that the first foul on Duncan was questionable. Referees understand context. They got a look from Pop and Duncan on that first foul, so they didn't want to give Duncan his second foul this early in the game. It would have forced Pop to put him on the bench.

5:04: Foul missed. Duncan is hit on his arm as he starts his shooting motion. Bosh reaches in and makes contact on the arm.

3:02: This officials should have reviewed this foul as a possible flagrant. Ginobili is hit on the head as he goes to the basket, with a clear wind-up preceding the blow. The league instituted replay for these situations, and yet the officials don't review it. That's because nobody complained. If Ginobili had milked it and rolled around on the floor for a while, or if Pop had thrown a tantrum, the officials definitely would have gone to the video review.


0:40: Travel missed. Neal shuffles his feet before he dribbles the ball.

Second Quarter

8:37: Andersen fouls Ginobili on this drive to the basket, but there's no foul called. Birdman clearly hits Ginobili's body and knocks him off balance during the shot.


6:17: The refs call a foul here only because Duncan misses his shot. Slight contact like this is a foul, but if the player can play through it and make the basket, the officials let it go. But if the shot doesn't fall, they bail the player out with a foul call.

3:43: A cheap hand-check foul, his third, sends Chris Bosh to the bench. No superstar would ever get hit with a call like this to get stuck on the bench for the rest of the half. It's slight hand contact from the defender on the drive to the basket—if the officials enforced the rule like this, they would call 100 fouls per game. The refs simply wanted to keep the game's physicality in check, and Bosh was chosen because he's not a huge star. If James or Duncan had committed this foul, you wouldn't have heard a whistle.


0:52: Block called, correct call—Battier slides into the path of the of the driving player.

0:02: Chalmers flops on this play. The league office should review this with a fine in mind.


Third Quarter

9:25: Travel missed in paint. Splitter moves his pivot foot before he shoots.

9:19: Another travel missed! Again, Splitter moves his pivot foot before he shoots.


8:02: Wade grabs his own shot, which is illegal. A traveling violation should have been called. Wade then laughs at Duncan for screaming at officials for missing the call.

2:37: Ginobili flops here. Look for a fine from the league office.

0:03: Ginobili fouled on this drive. Birdman thinks he has all ball, but he's hallucinating. Good call.


Fourth Quarter

9:49: This time Birdman really did get all ball. Good no-call on Parker's drive to the basket.


6:28: Duncan moves his pivot foot before the shot—a travel missed.

5:47: Good foul call here. Duncan fails to jump straight up. He's not stationary when he leaves the ground, so the verticality rule doesn't apply, and the contact with Allen is solid enough to warrant a whistle.


1:28: This is a foul—why are the Spurs complaining? A defender must allow a shooter the ability to come back to the floor and gain his feet. Danny Green doesn't, so this is an obvious foul.

1:08: This is a missed call. Bosh does not foul Duncan. Perhaps Popovich's tantrum over the previous foul on Allen was in the referee's head enough to earn Duncan a make-up call. But wow, what an occasion for a bad call: It gives San Antonio two free throws and two points it doesn't deserve with one minute to go. Why don't Van Gundy and Breen comment on this missed call? It essentially decides the game.


0:07: Parker releases the ball before the 24-second clock expires. Correct call.

Tim Donaghy is the owner and operator of

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