2014 NBA Playoffs: Flaw in Instant Replay Robs Los Angeles Clippers

By Mike De Moor
Los Angeles Clippers Chris Paul
Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

The Los Angeles Clippers dropped Game 1 against the Golden State Warriors at home on Saturday afternoon, 109-105.

After trailing by eight points with seven minutes remaining, Chris Paul helped lead his troops back with a pair of clutch three-pointers and a handful of gutsy drives. With the game knotted at 105, Draymond Green was fouled trying to track down an offensive rebound, which led to two made free throws which put the Warriors ahead.

With exactly 24 seconds left on the clock and trailing by two, there was no doubt in anyone’s mind who was going to get the ball: CP3 (which was partially because Paul had been spectacular, partially because Jamal Crawford had been awful and partially because Blake Griffin had fouled out).

Paul started with the ball on the left wing, but soon found himself a few feet back from the top of the key. DeAndre Jordan set a high screen and Green hedged on it as Steve Blake chased from the back side. Paul tried to beat Green around the corner and Green reached through his body at the ball, committing an obvious foul on the Clippers’ star. The ball sailed out of bounds and the referee signaled Clippers ball.

Of course, with the NBA’s (semi) new replay rules, this play was reviewable. As it turns out, the ball was touched last by Paul, which gave possession of the ball back to the Warriors with 19 seconds left.

If this exact scenario happens any other time in the game, the referee gives the ball to Los Angeles and overlooks the foul. However, since it was within the last two minutes of the game, the referee was handcuffed by the rules of instant replay, forcing him to make an incorrect call that cost the Clippers the game.

Personally, and I know this is going to seem untruthful but I’m going to say it anyway, I saw this coming. A few months ago I sent an email to Bill Simmons regarding this exact situations (which I pray to God he read although he probably didn’t), saying that this technicality could cost someone a game during the playoffs.

Hopefully the league can look into this situation and keep it from happening again. My idea for fixing it would be this: In this exact situation, allow the referees to give the ball to the Clippers, changing the call to a foul. However, because the foul wasn’t determined on the floor, don’t charge Green with a personal foul and don’t give Paul free throws (just give the Clippers a side out). I know that may seem a little synthetic, but hey, we all love overtime in college football don’t we? Isn’t that a little more synthetic than this?

It’s truly a shame that instant replay can negatively affect the outcome of a game the way it did on Saturday afternoon. Instant replay was implemented to make sure that referees get calls right, not to handcuff them into making the incorrect call.

The NBA would be foolish not to look into this situation immediately. Everyone watching that game was robbed of seeing CP3 try to even the score in crunch time, which certainly left a bad taste in my mouth (and probably left a lot of Clippers fans with worse than a bad taste in their mouth).

Game 2 of the series will be played on Monday night, as the Clippers try to avoid heading back home down 2-0. Hopefully Game 2 will be decided by the players.

Mike De Moor is an NBA writer for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter @MikeDeMoor, “like” him on Facebook or add him to your network on Google.

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