Fortify the Northern Border


The Canadians are getting angry about the Raptors' loss to the Hawks, and not without reason.

TrueHoop reader Shayan's email is indicative of many:

This is unbelievable and extremely frustrating!!!! On the last play in regulation of tonight's Raptors-Hawks game in Atlanta, with the game tied, this is the final play with 0.5 seconds to play:
Carlos Delfino is set to inbound the ball. He throws an alley-oop to a wide open TJ Ford, who tips the ball in the basket in what SHOULD'VE been the winning and final play. The refs review it and decide the ball didn't leave the hands of Ford in time, basically a 10th of a second if you look at the replays which they showed over and over again. What the refs DIDN'T however take into account, and what the Raptors bench was complaining about is this: Before TJ Ford even touched the ball, the shot clock was ALREADY RUNNING. A tenth of a second passed before Ford ever made CONTACT the ball. You could say a tenth of a second doesn't matter...WRONG..cuz guess what, it would've made the basket GOOD, it SHOULD'VE made the basket good, and the game SHOULD'VE been over with a Raptors win.

What makes this even more infuriating is the fact that last year, again, in Atlanta between the Raps-Hawks, the scorekeepers didn't count a basket by who else, TJ Ford, which would've totally changed the complexion of the game, plus that basket was in the fourth quarter. UNBELIEVABLE. Plus keep in mind that Atlanta is where the re-do had to be played between the Hawks and Heat. Something is not right here. The league stepped up for the Heat-Hawks game, they BETTER do something about this. I'm not expecting a replay of that last possession, it wouldn't be fair since it is practically impossible to conduct that same play and result, but the league better at least recognize that this is UNETHICAL and just downright UNACCEPTABLE!!! My GOODNESS!!!!!!!!!!

That's a lot of exclamation points, and boy, it is hard not to understand the frustration. Three games messed up in one season in the same city?

One thing I'm really not sure about here: how long is a tenth of second, in terms of human reactions? Can a regular person push a button that precisely? And does the timing system even react to the press of the button that precisely? My point is, is this the kind of thing that happens every night, but we never normally notice, just because the system isn't as precise as it purports to be? Is the clock often a tenth or so early or late?

Or is this truly an egregious mistake?

That's a question for an NBA scorekeeper or referee. I am trying to get in touch with one ...

Meanwhile, Sekou Smith of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports that, as much as everyone is eager to blame the same scorekeepers who famously made errors in favor of the Hawks in games against the Heat and these Raptors, in this case, Smith says, it was, Smith says, a referee at the controls this time.

There's no disputing the call on T.J. Ford's almost buzzer-beating layup that would have won the game for the Raptors in regulation; the ball didn't leave his hands until after the game clock had expired.

But there was a lengthy discussion in the Raptors' locker room after the Hawks' 127-120 overtime victory about the clock starting early on Ford's layup attempt. TV replays clearly showed that the clock started before Ford caught the ball in mid-air and began stretching for the basket.

The Hawks' official scorer was at fault for the error in the Miami game. But the culprit Wednesday was one of the game officials, Eric Lewis, who started the clock with a mechanism on his belt.

What would really help Raptors fans right now is a killer photo. The dream shot would be one showing 0.4 on the clock and the ball not yet in Ford's hands. Nice clear video could do the trick, too. Anyone who can point us to those things online ... it'd be much appreciated.

Until then, I'm thinking, there could be tension on the northern border.

UPDATE: The Associated Press recap of this game, that you can find on a lot of sites including ESPN.com, makes significant mention of this controversy. However, as edited on NBA.com at the moment, the AP recap doesn't mention Ford's shot, or the clock controversy, at all. Weak. UPDATE: Now, NBA.com has a version of the story that does mention the controversy.

UPDATE: A blurry version of photo documentation that is clear enough, (and a photo showing 0.9 on the clock as the previous shot went through the hoop, a YouTube breakdown) and video: