Only two successful protests in 27 years
The Mavericks formally filed their protest paperwork Sunday, insisting that the final 1:01 of overtime in their 116-108 defeat should be replayed because Erick Dampier was incorrectly assessed his second technical foul and thus wrongly ejected.
The Rockets, though, have five business days to decide whether to contest the Mavs' appeal and do not have to respond until Tuesday. Although there are five NBA games scheduled on Christmas, Friday is not considered a business day because the league office is closed.
League officials will then have five more business days to either uphold or reject the protest, likely dragging the matter into the new year.
If the Mavs' protest is upheld, it's believed that Houston will have to make an additional trip because the Rockets have already played their two scheduled road games in Dallas for the season. The Mavericks, who paid $10,000 to lodge the appeal, make their second and final trip to Houston on New Year's Eve.
Mavericks owner Mark Cuban had initially planned to protest "multiple misapplications of the rules" but ultimately decided to limit his appeal to the technical foul Dampier was assessed during an eight-minute video review of a flagrant foul on Houston's Aaron Brooks. Dampier was ejected with the Rockets leading by six points.
The Mavs contend that the review never should have taken place because Brooks had been called for a Flagrant Foul-Penalty 1 as opposed to a Flagrant Foul-Penalty 2 -- league rules say only Flagrant Foul-Penalty 2s are reviewable -- and that the review clearly shows that Dampier did not throw an elbow, meaning he shouldn't have been assessed a technical foul regardless.
"There wasn't even an elbow thrown," Cuban said Sunday. "By any reasonable standard, that change should have been made, and I'm sure the refs didn't know you could make that change, so that's a misapplication of the rules."
The last successful protest in the NBA came in January 2008, when a scoring-table error that led to Shaquille O'Neal fouling out in a December 2007 game in Atlanta enabled the Miami Heat to force the replay of the final 51.9 seconds of overtime in an eventual loss to the Hawks.
There hadn't been a successful protest in the NBA before that since early in the 1982-83 season, when then-commissioner Larry O'Brien backed San Antonio's appeal in a 137-132 loss to the Lakers in double overtime. The finish was not replayed until April of that season, but the redo enabled the Spurs to claim a 117-114 victory.
Marc Stein covers the NBA for ESPN.com and is a frequent contributor to ESPNDallas.com.