After inquiring with the league office in New York, I have received an official explanation about the questionable save Memphis guard O.J. Mayo had in the first overtime of Game 4.
My previous assumption is indeed fact. According to NBA replay rule, NBA officials are not allowed to examine and rule on boundary infractions in addition to deciding who touched the ball last and determining possession. Senior Vice President, Basketball Communications Tim Frank confirmed the rule Wednesday.
When a referee is reviewing a question on who the ball went out of bounds on, the referee is only permitted to check who hit the ball last, not boundary infractions,” Frank said.
Item No. 8 in the league’s instant replay situations manual, “Out of Bounds Plays,” provides additional information on such instances. The review can be held when “officials are uncertain as to who touched the ball last or if the basll was last touched simultaneously by two opponents when the ball goes out-of-bounds.” Additionally, the review can only take place in the last two minutes of the fourth period all overtime periods. The review also must take place prior to the subsequent in-bounding of the ball, and the officials must first make a call on the floor (favoring one team or jump ball) and then review video, according to the manual.
Most importantly, there are only two things that fall under “reviewable matters” in item No. 8.
- Identify who touched the ball last.
- Adjust game clock as necessary.
The officiating crew Monday night did both. And correctly, according to the letter of the law.
The question is whether the league will change the rule to permit officials to correct a call during replay in the event something was missed. I asked Frank that very question and was told the competition committee, as it does prior to each season, will analyze all aspect of instant replay and proceed with what makes the best sense for the league.