Down by five, with 25 seconds left on the game clock, De'Aaron Fox purposely let the ball bounce after Malik Monk's missed free throw. But instead of buying the Kings some time, the star point guard ended up costing them a possession.
"It’s a horses--t rule in the NBA”
Since no team was in possession of the ball, officials were forced to call a jump ball -- which Sacramento lost, allowing the Lakers to close out the game. The Kings interim coach Alvin Gentry was visibly frustrated with the call, but instead of bashing the refs, he called out the NBA rulebook after a 122-114 loss at Crypto.com Arena.
“Before you ask me about that play, it’s a horses--t rule in the NBA,” he said. “The referees did exactly what they were supposed to do. It is the rule. They enforced the rule the way it is. If anything needs to be changed, the rule needs to be changed."
Under Section II—Starting and Stopping of Shot Clock, the NBA's official Rulebook states that "the shot clock will start when a team gains new possession of a ball which is in play." Following a jump ball or missed free throw -- which was the case last night -- "the shot clock shall start when new possession is obtained."
Despite purposely allowing the ball to bounce, Fox wasn't actually in possession of the ball -- this is equivalent to letting the ball roll to preserve either the shot clock or the game clock. Therefore, the clock shouldn't have been stopped in the first place.
I think there needs to be some common sense about, you know, we have the basketball right there, they started the clock, we didn’t start the clock, it wasn’t our error, and so we got punished for a dumbass rule, that’s the bottom line. But it had nothing to do with the officials. All they did was exactly what they were supposed to do. They enforced the rule.
It's not the first time
It might not have been the officials' fault, but that doesn't change the fact the NBA has a rule to change. Especially since this isn't the first time the refs had to enforce it.
On March 7, 2018, with 0.6 seconds left on the clock, Mario Hezonja threw a lob to Aaron Gordon for a potential buzzer-beating dunk against the Lakers -- the Magic were trailing 108-107 at that point. But before Gordon even touched the ball, the clock operator in Los Angeles started running the clock.
After the final buzzer had sounded, the refs called in a replay to the NBA’s command center since the clock shouldn't have started before someone touched the ball -- Orlando attempted an inbound alley-oop to win the game. They were forced to enact Rule 13E-9-2:“If the ball is released on an unsuccessful field goal attempt or is loose when the horn or whistle sounds, the ball will be jumped at center circle between any two opponents in the game.” Two teams went center circle, and right after Brook Lopez touched the ball, the game was over.
Magic players felt cheated, and even the guys wearing purple and gold weren't happy with how the game played out. But once again, no one could blame the officiating crew for it. The rule is the rule, and they had no choice but to enforce it. Still, that doesn't make this particular rule any less absurd than it is, and the NBA will have to address it.
It cost the Magic a chance to win the game back in 2018. Yesterday, Fox lost the Kings a possession for pointing out the shot clock mistake instead of rebounding the ball. The league is lucky none of those were meaningful postseason games. The backlash would've been much bigger.