Kings fans who remember Game 6 of the 2002 Western Conference finals will tell you Sacramento has a history of being slighted by NBA officials.
While nothing can be done to right the perceived wrong done more than 12 years ago, the latest gripe the Kings have with the league is being fought and the team is accepting the public’s help in proving its case.
The Kings launched a protest Monday of last Thursday’s 111-110 loss to the Memphis Grizzlies at FedExForum.
The game ended on an alley-oop reverse layup by Courtney Lee, a shot the Kings contend should not have counted for two reasons.
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First, the Kings argue Lee did not get the shot off in the 0.3 seconds left on the clock. Secondly, the Kings believe the ball hit center Ryan Hollins’ hand, which would have started the clock and ended the game before Lee caught the ball.
The Internet has been flooded by fans posting their own visual evidence the basket should have been disallowed, and the Kings are accepting more information from the public for their case.
The NBA will rule on the protest by Dec. 2.
“I’ve gotten many, many submissions already,” said Kings general manager Pete D’Alessandro. “Not just Sacramento fans, but fans of the game who want to see the right thing happen. There are a lot of people out there smarter than me.”
The Kings led by 26 points before the Grizzlies rallied. Though Kings coach Michael Malone said after the game the team did not deserve to win after squandering the lead, the team is not accepting its 6-4 record.
“We just want the right result,” D’Alessandro said. “It’s bigger than the Sacramento Kings. It’s how we go forward with replay and how we use it.”
The Grizzlies, of course, believe justice prevailed and that Lee got his shot off in time and that Hollins did not deflect the ball.
Memphis general manager Chris Wallace appeared on NBA TV on Monday and discussed the Kings’ protest.
“The officiating crew made the correct call on the floor, then afterwards followed the correct procedures, and the play was reviewed by the league’s state-of-the-art replay review center,” Wallace said. “The call on the floor was upheld, and we are confident that the NBA will uphold the original result and call despite the media campaign that’s being waged.”
The NBA has dealt with conspiracy theories, and the ending of the game has fed into that lore.
One of the arguments is that Lee took longer than 0.3 seconds to take the shot.
That brings into question when the clock started and if Memphis had extra time.
Referees and the clock operator start the clock. Each has the ability to press the button when the ball is touched, which is designed to prevent “home cooking” in running the clock.
“It’s clear to us, and we’re going to make our argument, and we trust in the league to do the right thing,” D’Alessandro said. “We believe in the league, and they work hard to make the right decisions, and we’re going to leave it in their hands.”
The last protest that was upheld was Jan. 11, 2008, when the Miami Heat argued that its loss in Atlanta on Dec. 19, 2007, was affected by the Hawks’ scoring-table personnel mistakenly assessing a foul on Shaquille O’Neal that led to him fouling out with 51.9 seconds to play.
The official scorer attributed a foul to O’Neal with 3:24 remaining in the game that actually was on Udonis Haslem.
Commissioner David Stern upheld the Heat’s protest and fined the Hawks $50,000. The final 51.9 seconds of overtime were replayed on March 8, 2008, with the Hawks still holding on to win.
Before that, the last protest upheld was on Dec. 14, 1982.
Commissioner Larry O’Brien agreed with a protest by the San Antonio Spurs about their 137-132 double-overtime loss to the Los Angeles Lakers on Nov. 30.
The Spurs and Lakers finished the game on April 13, 1983, and San Antonio won, 117-114.
Notes – The Kings recalled forward Eric Moreland from their NBA Development League team, the Reno Bighorns.
Moreland was assigned to Reno on Nov. 4 and averaged 15 points and 13 rebounds in two games. He has yet to appear in a regular-season game for the Kings.
▪ The Kings’ game against New Orleans on Tuesday night won the vote for NBA Fan Night and will be aired nationally on NBA TV.
It’s the first of two nationally televised games for the Kings this week. Thursday’s game against Chicago will air on TNT.