Wednesday, March 18, 2009

The Amount of Time It Took You to Read This Title...

...was greater than the amount of time Dwight Howard spent in the lane last night during a crucial play near the end of the Magic's loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Howard was whistled for a three-second violation that negated the Magic’s possession and gave the ball back to Cleveland with 30 seconds left and a two point lead.

Magic Coach Stan Van Gundy was beside himself in reaction to the call. Three-second violations are not uncommon, in general, but they are rarely called late in a close game.

“You won't see that call again. That, I guarantee you," Van Gundy said. "You will not see, with the game on the line, a 3-second call in the last 10 seconds. That's part of the reason they're 30-1 at home. They're a very good team, and when you get calls like that [expletive], you're in pretty good shape."

What made it worse is the fact that Howard was on his way out of the lane when the ref blew the whistle. So, Howard was policing himself, going by the rules, and exited the lane in the time allotted. But the ref jumped the whistle. Howard implied that their may have been some home cooking involved.

"I was very surprised," Howard said. "I was in the lane and I got out. It seemed like their bench or their coaching staff got into the ref's ear about me being in the lane. Instead of letting the refs make the call, I guess the bench made the call."

I had the game recorded on my DVR and reviewed that play over and over with my stop watch from the moment that Howard entered the lane until the moment that I could hear referee Jack Nies blow his whistle. By my measurement, the whistle was blown well before 3 seconds, in fact, it was barely past two seconds. This makes me think that the ref had been watching Howard the whole game and maybe after enough complaining from the Cavs bench, he made a conscious decision to blow his whistle right then.

The problem I have with this goes beyond the idea of “make up” calls or even placing an emphasis on when during the course of a game it is acceptable to make or not make certain calls. The idea that rules already being enforced by subjective individuals are themselves subjective is extremely consternating. But in this case, the problem is that the call was incorrect! Howard was not in the lane for three seconds. Had he clearly been in the lane for over three seconds and the ref blew the whistle, we would still be talking about the call not being appropriate at that time. But at least we would have to admit that it was the right call. But this isn’t the case. Howard was not in the lane for three seconds…not even close.

I won’t go so far as to say that this call cost us the game. Most folks in the Magic blogosphere prefer to place the focus on Rashard Lewis and his recent slump. I agree that this is a bigger issue than one call. However, it is clear to me that when two elite teams are this evenly matched, it only takes one bad call to make a difference in which team wins and which team loses.


  1. A good make up call would have been to ignore Lebron's lean in to draw a foul on C Lee the next play. But the Cavs getting BOTH calls turned what had been a terrific game into one decided by the refs.

    Thank god it was only a regular season game and not a playoff deciding game seven.

  2. It was just a head-scratcher. Like traveling the 3 second rule just seems to be something the ref calls when they see fit. You did not quote it here but SVG also said that when they review the tape he bets there will be at least a dozen 3 second violations on both sides.

    Like Jackie said though thankfully it was just a regular season game although if we finish one game behind Cleveland I might not feel the same way!

  3. must have been the under on that game..

  4. Agreed with Moon and the blog post, itself.
    Even by Sportscenter's measure, Dwight was in the lane for EXACTLY 3.0 seconds, and was on his way out so the whistle should not have been blown.

  5. This is a terrible argument. First off, go watch the reply again because the wistle was blown after the shot had already been taken and Mo Williams got the rebound. So to me, it doesnt seem to matter whether the call was there or not. Howard was clearly in the lane for three second, they even ran it on ESPN and it cam to like 4 and a half seconds or something. I think the main thing we should be argueing is how the ref's carry out their calls. Howard did have the three second violation, the refs never call it, so should tey just continue to ignore it or call it all the time?

  6. Wow, you would have thought Van Gundy would have learned to shut the hell up after Shaq put him in his place... but oh well.

    The call, as was pointed out earlier, was totally moot. The shot taken by the magic that possession was off and Mo Williams took the rebound. The Magic actually benefited from the call as it allowed them to set their defense on the other end without running in transition.

    As for the 3-second rule, it is one that is not called nearly enough in the NBA and it needs to be. I am so sorry for Van Gundy that a correct call was made, but it happened to be late in the game. Cry me a river... Like the Magic never got such a call this season.

    Magic Fans should be pissed at Van Gundy for not telling his team to get the ball to Howard more in the second half (no shots in the fourth, what?) instead of living by the three ball, which is the only way they beat Cleveland earlier this year.

  7. Shaq did nothing but make himself look like a spoiled, hurt, little child. The fact that ran his big mouth before the game, during, and after the loss was hilarious. Dwight simply went about his business and Orlando took the win. Shaq tried to flop. Period. He got called on it, and was embarrassed, so he lashed out like a scorned woman.

    From this day forth, the artist formerly known as Shaq, shall be the Big Shaquego.


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