Lakers-Warriors fourth quarter shot clock malfunction explained: 'I've never seen that in my career'



The Golden State Warriors’ 128-121 win over the Los Angeles Lakers on Saturday, which mattered a great deal in the playoff race between the two teams, was marred by a bizarre shot clock malfunction and a 20-minute delay in the closing minutes of the fourth quarter. 

“I’ve never seen that in my career really,” said Steph Curry, who finished with 31 points, six rebounds and five assists to lead the way for the Warriors. “Usually, [and] if something happens pregame, they have a backup clock or something. At the end of the day we put ourselves in a good position where we were coming out of that and really needed one stop. Obviously a big win for us. I don’t know the last time we won in here against them, so a big deal.

“[A long delay] the worst thing that can happen, especially at this age. You build up all pregame to get going. As soon as the engine shuts off it’s hard to get it going again. It is what it is.”

Here’s a timeline of one of the strangest endings to a game you’ll ever see:

A dual review: 1:50, fourth quarter

With just over two minutes remaining, LeBron James hit an incredible 3-pointer from the corner to cut the Lakers’ deficit to four points. 

At the next dead ball, the referees went to the monitor to check on whether or not James had stepped out of bounds prior to the shot. The Replay Center in Secaucus, New Jersey, determined that he had, which meant the points were taken off the board, and the Lakers were once again down by seven points. 

“I’ve never seen that be called before like that in that particular time,” James said after the game. “That was kinda weird.” 

During the pool report, crew chief David Guthrie explained why the shot was disallowed after the fact. 

“James’ left foot is out of bounds as he begins to shoot,” Guthrie said. “Yes, it is reviewable at that time. The rule is Rule 13, Section II(f)(3): Whether the shooter committed a boundary line violation, the replay center official will only look at the position of the player’s feet at the moment they touch the floor immediately prior to the release of the shot. This can be applied during other replay triggers as well.”

Once that matter was settled, the refs stayed at the monitor to investigate a Lakers challenge. Play had originally stopped because the ball went out of bounds after Steph Curry missed a 3-pointer. The call on the floor was Warriors ball, but after a lengthy review the refs determined that it hit Jaxson Hayes and Andrew Wiggins simultaneously. As a result, the Lakers won the challenge, and it was changed to a jump ball

An immediate second challenge: 1:48, fourth quarter

After waiting around for a number of minutes, everyone was ready to get started. Hayes won the jump ball and tipped it to the corner, for Austin Reaves and Draymond Green to chase. Green got to the ball first, but was starting to lose his balance so he threw the ball off of Reaves to save possesion for the Warriors. 

The Lakers thought he shuffled his feet before doing so, however, and called a timeout to issue another challenge. This review was just as interminable, as the referees looked at the replays over and over again before determining that Green had indeed traveled and it would be Lakers ball. 

Shot clock, Vol. I: 1:42, fourth quarter

Finally, it was time to play the last minute-plus of the game. Or so everyone thought. James brought the ball up the court, but as soon as he crossed halfcourt, the action was halted because the shot clock hadn’t started. The refs determined that six seconds had come off the game clock and reset the shot clock to 18. 

Shot clock, Vol. II: 1:39, fourth quarter

After a discussion between the officials and game operations staff, it was time to start the game again. James caught the inbounds pass, took a few dribbles and was then stopped in his tracks by whistles. The shot clock was still not working. This time, the refs took two more seconds off the shot clock and put it to 16. 

James made his way over to the broadcast table and told the ABC crew that he was “too old for this.” 

Shot clock, Vol. III: 1:35, fourth quarter

If James only knew what was to come. Again, the game was restarted. Again, he took the inbounds pass. And again, the shot clock didn’t start. This time, another four seconds had run off, but the refs put the shot clock to 14 seconds, as is standard when it gets below that mark and needs to be reset. 

Shot clock, Vol. IV: 1:35, fourth quarter

It seemed certain that the shot clock would be fixed after three discussions, but that was not the case. On this occasion, the Lakers inbounded the ball to D’Angelo Russell, who flipped it to James. That was as far as they got, though, because the shot clock was still frozen. 

Shot clock, Vol. V: 1:35, fourth quarter

Once more, play resumed following a conversation at the scorer’s table. The Lakers stuck with the same play as their fourth try, inbounding it to Russell for a flip to James. Before James could do anything, however, the game was stopped because, you guessed it, the shot clock was stuck. 

James flung the ball up into the air out of frustration and disbelief. 

“Obviously it messes with the rhythm, but, at the end of the day, you want to get it right,” James said. “It’s unfortunate what happened, but you want to try to get it right, obviously… The referees, they have a job to do, and they have to do it the best they can. So all good.” 

After the fifth shot clock malfunction, they brought out a stop watch and the officials instructed the Lakers’ PA announcer to call out the shot clock when it got to 15, 10 and five seconds. He didn’t have to do all that much work, as it turned out. The Lakers immediately turned the ball over when they finally got to run a play, and the Warriors scored on the ensuing possession to put the game out of reach. 

“It was just stay loose as much as we could,” James said. “It was a lengthy pause of the game and we had a play, a set that was called, and whenever the game was resumed we tried to execute that. Unfortunately, I turned the ball over.”

The shot clock malfunctioning late wasn’t the only noteworthy thing to happen in the game. James became the third-oldest player to score 40 points in a game after his teammate Anthony Davis exited early following an elbow to the eye

It somehow isn’t even the most noteworthy game in the season series between the two teams because the first matchup went to double overtime, and the Lakers won by a single point, 145-144. The two heavyweights have one final matchup set for April 9, with potentially heavy playoff implications on the line. 





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