With 11 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter and the Pistons up by one point, they had a chance to breathe life back into their playoff run. They just needed to keep the Heat off the scoreboard.
James Johnson missed a jumper with six seconds left on the clock. Goran Dragic grabbed the offensive rebound and just missed his attempt with less than a second left. But Hassan Whiteside was there for the tip as time expired. Here’s the winning play:
The NBA releases a Last Two Minute report on NBA officiating for each game that is within five points at the two minute mark, assessing the calls that take place (along with no-calls) over those final two minutes of the game. Calls are only labeled as incorrect with “clear and conclusive video evidence.”
The L2M for the Pistons-Heat determined that the Heat committed two fouls on the play, neither were called which sealed the win for Miami. While battling for the rebound on Johnson’s shot, Rodney McGruder pushes Ish Smith in the back which sent him to the floor. The report also says that Whiteside fouled Andre Drummond while battling for the rebound, tugging his jersey with his left hand which impact his ability to control the board.
The foul should have been called before Dragic’s shot, giving the Pistons the ball back with five seconds and a chance to seal the win.
According to Number Fire, the win put the heat from a 53 percent chance of making the playoffs to 69 percent, and dropped the Pistons from 12 percent to just a three percent chance. Detroit now sits at the 10 seed and three games behind the Heat and Pacers who are tied for the final spot.
Don’t feel too bad for the Pistons though. The report also says the Pistons benefited from a pair of no-calls, which each would have resulted in turnovers. Drummond got away with a three seconds in the lane violation at the 1:38 mark, but even more significant was this play to give the Pistons a four point lead with 30 seconds remaining:
The report says “Baynes (DET) sets the screen on Johnson (MIA) and continues moving into him, affecting his ability to defend the play.” Yeah, that’s a pretty reasonable moving screen call on a couple levels.
But also, with five seconds remaining, that’s plenty of time for Stanley Johnson to have given the game away (sorry Stanley, couldn’t resist - rough game, but next one will be better).
Not to mention, the Pistons benefited from a similar situation last month against the Toronto Raptors. The Pistons capped one of their largest fourth quarter comebacks in team history with a brilliant defensive stand from Marcus Morris, shutting down DeMar DeRozan on his attempt at a game winner.
The L2M said Morris committed a foul, which would have given DeRozan, an 84 percent free throw shooter, a pair of free throws. Most of us shrugged, saying let the players decide it and folks shouldn’t be punished for good, aggressive play. Same thing applies for the Heat winner.
And notice Drummond’s seal off rebound on Jonas Valanciunas? If you don’t box out the league’s leading rebounder, can’t really blame the refs for the loss. Plus none of the three defenders surrounding Dragic on his putback, Drummond, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, or Tobias Harris, even bothered to challenge Dragic’s shot either.
Perhaps the refs could have bailed the Pistons out with a call, but it’s hard to argue the Pistons deserved to win on that play.