NBA: Ref got it right in Denver win

Updated: November 11, 2009, 6:03 PM ET
ESPNChicago.com

CHICAGO -- NBA senior vice president of referee operations Ron Johnson said Wednesday that referee Mark Wunderlich had conclusive visual evidence Tuesday to overturn a decision that would have given the Chicago Bulls a victory over the Denver Nuggets.

Chauncey Billups' free throw with six-tenths of a second put Denver up 90-89. Billups missed the second free throw on purpose to take time off the clock, and the Bulls called a timeout after rebounding, leaving three-tenths of a second remaining.

Kirk Hinrich inbounded the ball to Brad Miller, who turned slightly and shot. Referees initially allowed what would have been the winning basket, but after several minutes reviewing the play, it was overturned and the Nuggets were awarded the victory.

The fact that there was no time left on the clock and the shot was good triggered an automatic review of the play, Johnson said.

"[Wunderlich] finished looking at various views, then he asked if there were any other views available," Johnson said on "The Waddle & Silvy Show" on ESPN 1000. "He was given a view that showed clearly that Miller's fingers were still in contact with the ball and there were 0 seconds left on the game clock. Therefore the ball had not left his hand, therefore the basket was nullified."

NBA spokesman Tim Frank also said Wunderlich got the call right.

"Everything was done by the book, and they made the correct decision," Frank said. "The truck informed [Wunderlich] they had one additional angle, and so he asked to review that, and it ended up being the overhead shot, which ended up being the conclusive angle.

"Once he saw that, he was able to make his decision."

Nuggets coach George Karl said Wednesday he likely would have protested the outcome if the call had not been reversed.

"If they would have ruled it good, I think I would have had an ability to protest the game," Karl said on "The Waddle & Silvy Show." "Because I think it's an interpretation of the rule. I'm not sure of that. If it's a judgment call, you can't protest, but if it's an interpretation of a rule, you can protest.

"So I think we would have protested the game and see if that interpretation -- which is in the casebook -- is considered a rule."

Karl said the rule involves whether a player pivots when he catches the ball.

"According to the rulebook that I know, if there's any type of pivoting associated with the shot, you cannot get a shot off in three-tenths of a second," Karl said. "It's in their casebook of the referees. That's why we missed the second shot. The rebound takes three-tenths of a second.

"It's very difficult to get a shot off in three-tenths of a second, unless you're facing the basket and catching and shooting in same motion. Even though Miller just twisted a little, there was a kind of pivoting of his body that in general referees are told you can't shoot the ball in three-tenths of a second."

Frank said there is no description of the type of shot that can be taken when there is more than .2 on the clock.

Reading from the NBA rulebook, Frank said: The only type of field goal which may be scored if the game clock is at .2 or .1 is a tip-in or high lob. The game clock must show 0.3 or more in order for a player to secure possession of the ball on a rebound or a throw-in to attempt a field goal.

"There is no description of what could happen in any way," Frank said. "You have the ability to catch and shoot with .3 or more. I'm not sure what Coach Karl was referring to."

Frank said he kept track of how long the review took. He said it took 4 1/2 minutes from the end of the game, and it was under three minutes of actual review.

Either way, Karl felt good about the outcome.

"I feel like a very lucky man, a very lucky man," Karl said. "Very fortunate to win the game last night. It was one of those crazy days on the court where fortunately the rules were on our side."

ESPNChicago.com Bulls reporter Nick Friedell contributed to this story.

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