What a fascinating finish.
With five minutes to go, the Pistons had a 10 point lead and looked poised to end their losing streak at five games. Kemba Walker had different ideas. The Hornets scored 13 straight points and Kemba had 11 of them.
He put the Hornets up by three with less than a minute to go. Andre Drummond stopped the bleeding with an and-one, which how clutch that free throw was shouldn’t go unappreciated, tying the game with 35 seconds left.
From there...well, tomorrow’s Last 2 Minute Report, which reviews every call or non-call in the final two minutes of close games, will be very interesting.
Walker got a trip to the line and the ball might not have lied, as he split his free throws. Blake Griffin got a very generous trip to the line for the Pistons - and the ball definitely didn’t lie as he missed both.
Detroit intentionally fouled Jeremy Lamb. But the 89 percent free throw missed his second one, keeping the Pistons just down two.
Hornets fans saw Jose Calderon throw the ball into thin air but Pistons fans saw a tug on Langston Galloway’s jersey, and the refs sided with the latter. Galloway knocked down both free throws with just 14 seconds left to tie the game.
With no time outs left, the Hornets let Kemba go to work. He went for the drive and kick to Lamb, who drilled the rainbow long two and left just .3 seconds on the clock for the Pistons. Dagger.
Or was it?
The officials reviewed because the Hornets bench started prematurely celebrating. They eventually received a technical foul for six men on the court - but should the shot have been waved off?
The ball is only just starting to go through the hoop, but Malik Monk - who was not checked in - is clearly well onto the court.
Here’s what the rulebook says:
Section III—Number of Players
a. If the ball is put into play and remains in play with one team having six or more players on the court, a non-unsportsmanlike technical foul will be assessed on the team with too many players and such team would lose possession if it had possession at the time the violation was discovered. Immediately following the free throw awarded for the technical foul, the team with the correct number of players will instruct the Crew Chief to:
1. resume play from the point in time when the technical foul was assessed, under the same conditions as would have prevailed had there been no error with a throw-in, jump ball or foul shot, as If the ball is to be put into play with a throw-in, the team who shot the free throw will be awarded possession unless that team just scored and the error was discovered prior to the throw-in being released by the team with six or more players.
2. nullify all play that occurred from the point in time when the ball was put into play with one team having six or more players on the court and ending when the technical foul was assessed, reset the game and shot clock to the point in time when the ball was put into play, and if the ball was put into play by:
1. a throw-in, the ball shall be returned to the original throw-in spot with the ball awarded to the team with the correct number of players, or
2. a missed free throw that remained in play, a jump ball shall be held at center court between any two players in the game, or
3. a jump ball, the ball shall be returned to the original jump ball spot and a jump ball held with the same two
1. EXCEPTION: Acts of unsportsmanlike conduct and all flagrant fouls, and points scored from any resulting free throws, shall not be nullified.
b. Other errors involving the wrong number of players at the start of play, four or less, will be penalized with a non-unsportsmanlike technical foul and play shall resume from the point-of-interruption.
a. EXCEPTION to a and b: If the violation occurs on (1) a free throw attempt which is to be followed by another free throw attempt, or (2) a free throw attempt that is not going to remain in play, (3) throw-in before the ball is released, (4) prior to a personal foul being assessed, or (5) jump ball before the ball is released.
I’m not an official and am not an expert when it comes to NBA rules. But just looking at the rulebook...I think the shot should have been waved off.
But it wasn’t. The Hornets did receive a technical foul for too many players on the court since the ball was still in play, which Galloway iced in front of a rowdy crowd, who were ready to start celebrating their win.
And the Pistons still had to in-bound from across the court. A Blake Hail Mary to Drummond was intercepted by a group of Hornets to seal the win.
Right calls, wrong calls, I don’t know. But tomorrow’s will be a fascinating L2M report. And I don’t envy those refs their jobs tonight.
The Hornets got off to a hot start in the first, running out double digits. Drummond was absolutely abysmal, getting destroyed by Cody Zeller and Willy Hernangomez. The two combined for 14 points on 6-6 shooting on Drummond in the quarter. The Hornets finished with 37 first quarter points.
But both Drummond and the Pistons bounced back defensively and didn’t allow the Hornets to get much going offensively again until Kemba put the Hornets on his back for the fourth quarter comeback.
They especially got hot in the third quarter when the three point shot started falling and ran out a double-digit lead of their own. A lead that they mostly held in check until Kemba did what Kemba does.
They played hard and they played pretty well. This one definitely could have gone either way and it landed for the Hornets.
With their sixth straight loss, the Pistons fall to .500 with four more tough games looming in this December from hell. Saturday they’ll host the Celtics, followed by the Bucks on Monday. Then it’s off to the Timberwolves next Wednesday, and a rematch against the Hornets next Friday.
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