According to Lisa Dillman in the LA Times writing about last night's final play:
[The officials] ultimately decided that Heat star Dwyane Wade had made contact with an official and caused an inadvertent whistle. Wade had collided after he picked off Baron Davis' attempted pass to Al Thornton with 7.2 seconds left.
This explanation is all fine and dandy, except for two things. (1) It pretty much ignores what actually happened on the play and (2) when taken in the context of what transpired with the officials, it makes them come off as complete and total idiots.
They huddled to discuss the play for 60 seconds before initially awarding the ball out of bounds to the Clippers. Let's assume that it was indeed an inadvertent whistle. None of the three of them thought there were any violations on the play, and Kirkland's whistle sounded when Wade collided with him. Fine. What were they discussing?
Crew chief Greg Willard calls the group together and asks them what call they have. Ron Olesiak says, "I got nothing." Courtney Kirkland says, "I got nothing." Willard asks who blew the whistle. Kirkland says "I did, but that was inadvertent when Wade ran into me." Done. Easy. Heat ball.
But that's not what happened. Which begs the question, what the hell were they talking about? What exactly is the series of events that leads them to award the ball to the Clippers, and then to reverse that with the explanation that there was never any out of bounds call to begin with? If there was never any call, why did they conclude, after apparently careful consideration, that it was Clippers ball? Does that make any sense to anyone?
Also, are there any rule book geeks out there who can speak authoritatively on the question of contacting a referee who is out of bounds? If a player were to jump across the end line, and make contact with the stanchion under the basket, but throw the ball back in bounds before he hit the ground, he would be considered out of bounds because the stanchion is out of bounds. Right? How is this different? There's nothing magical about being on the floor out of bounds, as far as I know.
This is a non-explanation.
UPDATE: Tom Ziller writing for Fanhouse went to all the trouble of looking up the actual rule. Thank FSM for Ziller - that kind of 'research' and 'fact-checking' just exhausts me. At any rate, he verified that my first inclination was correct. If Wade has the ball and comes into contact with Kirkland out of bounds, then he is out of bounds - LA ball. And it's not open to interpretation. So the ONLY way to justify the call they finally ended up with (I'm assuming that they actually know the rule since it's you know, their job) would be to assume that Kirkland wasn't out of bounds - something of a suspension of disbelief, given that he was actually falling against the scorer's table trying to get out of the way. They can't even argue that Wade didn't touch him, since they inconveniently lost that explanation by saying that the collision is what caused the inadvertent whistle. All in all, a none-too-proud moment for the officiating crew, who had the guts to get the call right the first time - and then for some reason got it completely wrong, giving a completely non-plausible explanation, under pressure from Dwyane Wade and his youthful ward Eric Spoelstra. (How old is that guy? 14?)