The Blazers Have Numbers

Posted by Kevin Arnovitz

Inside Hoops breaks down an unusual play from the Celtics-Blazers game last night:

Tuesday night in Portland the Trail Blazers are hosting the Boston Celtics and late in the second quarter were losing to the visitors 44-38. But they got a late first half basket using six players on the court...

With 10 seconds left in the half, Portland took a 20-second timeout. A Blazers substitution brought Jerryd Bayless into the game. Greg Oden was supposed to leave the game, but he didn't.

So, after the timeout, Bayless inbounded the basketball to Steve Blake. With time ticking down, Blake lobbed it down to Oden outside the left paint near the rim, who quickly flipped it to Travis Outlaw on the right side of the paint, who threw down an open dunk.

LaMarcus Aldridge and Rudy Fernandez were also on the court for the Blazers, giving them six players versus Boston's five...

On the court for the Celtics was their starting lineup: Rajon Rondo, Ray Allen, Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Kendrick Perkins.

Before Blake threw the pass, Kevin Garnett was guarding Aldridge at the left free throw corner. Oden was unguarded behind KG near the basket just outside the left paint. When Garnett spotted Oden he yelled/motioned for help (or was yelling that there are six Blazers men on the floor). Perkins, who was around the right side of the paint, responded.

Perkins switched over to guard Oden as Blake lobbed it inside, so Oden quickly flipped it to the now wide-open Outlaw, who crammed home the easy dunk with 3 seconds left, making it 44-40.

InsideHoops.com is 95 percent certain it was Oden who should have come out.

The Celtics went wild protesting. But the amazing result was that the referees, who did not notice the problem until after the dunk, actually counted the basket for the Blazers but issued a technical foul on them, putting Ray Allen on the line for a free throw, which he hit, putting Boston up 45-40, the score going into halftime.

Is this the rule? Did the referees handle this correctly? If so, the Blazers actually benefitted from this!

What if a team always put six men on the floor, almost always scored as a result, and only gives up a single technical foul free throw each time. Right?

After the game, referee Mike Callahan explained:

"If we would have caught the six men on the court before the made field goal, then there would have been no score. We would have called a technical foul on Portland and stopped play.

"After the technical foul shot, Portland would have inbounded the ball as they were in possession before the stoppage."

Doc Rivers was rightly befuddled:

"That was awful," Rivers said. "It absolutely had an affect on our guys. They complained the rest of the game about it. I told them, 'You got to get over that.' That was a doozy. There is no excuse for that to happen.

"They said you couldn't correct the play, which I still disagree with. But the problem was that we called around, we called the league, and they didn't have the answer, either. It is what it is. There is nothing we can do about."

Portland coach Nate McMillan confirmed that it was Greg Oden who was supposed to be on the bench:

"Hell of a play. Hell of a play Greg didn't get the memo to get out of the game. Hell of a play. We didn't pick it up and neither did they or the officials. And we got a point for that."

Nothing that an embedded GPS system or pressure sensors couldn't have taken care of.