Clippers-Sacramento - Bizarre Whistle of the Game

I can't believe I forgot my Bizarre Whistle of the game feature in only the fourth game of its existence. Those home games are rough - starting a recap after the game ends at 10. But I can't let this feature die so easily.

Bizarre Whistle of the Game: This is not a specific whistle, but a strange situation involving the officials and fouls. In the final minute, after Eric Gordon's three had reestablished a three point Clipper lead, the Kings' Pooh Jeter missed a shot and Gordon rebounded with 32 seconds left. Omri Casspi committed a foul on Gordon to stop the clock, but the Kings had a foul to give so there were no free throws. (As an aside, part of the fourth quarter story is that the Clippers suddenly weren't getting any calls. There were only three fouls called against the Kings in the 11 plus minutes of the fourth quarter to that point.) After the Casspi foul, LA called time out.

When play resumed, LA was inbounding with 28 seconds on the game clock, and a full 24 on the shot clock. Notice anything strange about that? I did, but apparently neither Paul Westphal nor his staff nor anyone on the officiating crew did. The shot clock is not supposed to reset to more than 14 seconds on a foul. Casspi's foul on Gordon was not immediate; about 4 seconds had elapsed. The shot clock should have been set at 20, which is what it showed when the foul occurred before the time out.

This was a potentially huge error (though as we'll see, it didn't turn out to be). With four seconds between the shot clock and the game clock, the Kings would have very little time to get a final shot off if they decided to play for the defensive stop. If the Clippers managed the clock well, they could shoot with about 5 seconds left, then between the flight of the ball and the time to secure the rebound, the Kings would be down to 3 or 2 seconds left to try to get the three pointer they needed to tie. Four more seconds in that situation would make a world of difference - 6 seconds to run a play versus 2 seconds.

As it happens, the Kings played the final 28 seconds completely wrong such that the clock mistake was moot. Tyreke Evans allowed Eric Gordon to kill about 10 seconds doing nothing, and then fouled him with 12 seconds on the clock. In that situation, you either foul immediately to extend the game, or defend without fouling to try to get the stop and go for the win. (The Ralph and Mike exchange at that point was pretty funny: Mike Smith - "I just don't understand." Ralph - "You understand, it's Tyreke Evans who doesn't understand.") Fouling after 12 seconds was boneheaded, but at least it negated the time keeper's error since there would have still been 8 seconds on a properly set shot clock.

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