When Ralph was calling the Clippers final play Wednesday night, he immediately gave credit for the game winning basket to Elton Brand for tipping in Jason Hart's layup. Apparently, the official scorer had initially credited Brand as well, though in the final box score, it went to Hart. During replays, one thing was obvious - it wasn't Elton Brand's basket. Why? Had he actually touched the ball, it would have been a clear case of basket interference, no basket, Clippers lose by one.
It was almost impossible to tell if he touched it on the replay. I certainly couldn't say for certain. I will say that if he did touch it, it wasn't enough to change the trajectory. So it seems like the shot was going in without help. He also seemed cognizant of the issue - his hand was there, but he moved away from the ball rather than towards it, realizing that it was still in the cylinder. Still, by rule, if he so much as grazed it, it's a violation. (ClipperWidow insists he only caressed the ball's aura.)
But based on Elton's comments after the game, of course he touched it.
"I don't know if I touched it." Hmmm. The biggest play of the game, the game-winning basket, and he doesn't know? Does he know what a basketball feels like? Leathery... kind of bumpy.
Refs are always reluctant to make calls that decide games, but of course non-calls can decide games also. As close as it was, it's reasonable to say that it would have been impossible to call basket interference with absolute confidence in real time. But no one would have blamed the officials if they had.
Maybe that makes up for the 16 to 6 free throw discrepancy in the fourth.