Broken clock, reviews mar end of Lakers-Warriors

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LOS ANGELES — The last two minutes of the game clock in the Golden State Warriors’ 128-121 win over the Los Angeles Lakers on Saturday night took more than 20 minutes of real time to play out thanks to a series of replay reviews and shot-clock malfunctions.

The delays began with 1:50 remaining in the fourth, with the Lakers trailing 124-120, when L.A. coach Darvin Ham challenged an out-of-bounds call that granted the Warriors possession while Lakers center Jaxson Hayes and Golden State forward Andrew Wiggins both went for the rebound.

While the officials were reviewing the out-of-bounds call, they determined that the corner 3-pointer LeBron James made on the previous trip down the court with 2:07 remaining did not count.

The Lakers ended up winning the challenge — Hayes and Wiggins faced off for a jump ball — but lost points in the process.

“I’ve never seen that be called before like that — in that particular time,” said James, who finished with 40 points, 9 assists and 8 rebounds. “That was kind of weird. … It took some momentum away from us.”

The ruling was eerily similar to one from a December game against the Minnesota Timberwolves, in which a late 3 by James that would have tied the score was downgraded to a 2-pointer after review. Just like he did that night, James disagreed with the call Saturday.

“I didn’t believe I stepped on the line, obviously,” James said Saturday. “I knew how much space I had over there. And when I shoot, I shoot on my tippy toes, so it’s kind of hard for me to have a heel down.”

Crew chief David Guthrie explained the ruling in a postgame statement to a pool reporter.

“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.”

While the overturned 3 helped his team, Warriors coach Steve Kerr said he would just as soon lived without the ruling.

“I also don’t like the rule that you can go back and look at an out of bounds, or LeBron’s 3,” Kerr said. “That seems to happen once or twice a year. I’d love to see that rule go away. I think we’re trying so hard to get everything just right, at the expense of the flow. I mean, who cares if a guy’s foot is half an inch on the line? Is that worth going back 45 seconds and changing everything, with the unintended consequences? It’s not my favorite rule, for sure.”

James, however, defended the spirit of the replay rules.

“At the end of the day, you want to get it right,” James said. “So, it’s unfortunate what happened. But you want to try to get it right, obviously. And our crew has a job to do — which is the referees — they have a job to do, and they have to do it at the best they can. So, all good.”

With the score back to 124-117 after James’ 3 was nullified, Wiggins won the jump ball, tipping it to Draymond Green, who tried to corral the ball near the baseline.

While James was penalized for the heel of his sneaker supposedly touching the side out-of-bounds line, the Lakers believed that the toe of Green’s shoe did the same on the baseline with 1:48 remaining. So Ham used another coach’s challenge.

After another review, the referees called it out of bounds on Green, and L.A. was granted possession back. The Lakers inbounded the ball, but the officials quickly blew their whistles, noticing the shot clock was not working properly. After the refs consulted with the scoreboard operators at center court, L.A. was given the ball to inbound again, and once again, the shot clock malfunctioned after the Lakers threw it in.

The false start happened four times in a row, eliciting louder and louder boos with each delay. The ABC broadcast even cut to actor and director Ben Affleck, seated courtside with Jennifer Lopez, slumping in his chair, unable to hide his impatience. The ABC cameras also caught James shaking his head and laughing at the extended break in the action as he said, “I’m too old for this s—.”

Eventually, Arena public address announcer Lawrence Tanter informed the crowd he would be counting down the shot clock over the arena speakers in order to resume play.

After all that, L.A. got the ball in and James had the ball stripped by Warriors star Stephen Curry (31 points), leading to an alley-oop dunk for Jonathan Kuminga (23 points) and putting Golden State up 126-117 with 1:07 remaining.

“It was bizarre,” Kerr said. “It seems like a few times a year you get clock issues. That’s about as extreme as I’ve been a part of where the backup unit doesn’t work either. It’s unfortunate. I felt bad for the fans. That was a great game, and then the last two minutes everyone is just kind of looking at each other wondering what to do.”

Several Lakers players pointed out that the shot clock had a hiccup during a Warriors possession with 10:53 remaining in the fourth quarter, when it was counting down from 10 to 9, reset to 24 and play continued, with Trayce Jackson-Davis finishing the possession by scoring a driving hook shot with 10:38 to put Golden State up 104-96.

“Their points didn’t get taken away because the clock malfunctioned,” Ham said. “They continued to play through. But it is what it is.”

That sequence was also brought up in the postgame pool report.

“The shot clock malfunctioned during live play at that time, and that is not a reviewable matter,” Guthrie said in a statement, adding it was the responsibility of the officiating crew to notice the discrepancy in the moment, and they failed to do so.

L.A. came into the night with a one-game lead on Golden State for No. 9 in the Western Conference standings. Saturday’s result flipped the teams’ positioning, with the Lakers now in 10th with 14 games remaining.

“It’s going to take everything to scrape out some wins,” Lakers guard D’Angelo Russell (23 points, 13 assists) said. “At this time of the year, they all matter.”

ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne contributed to this report.

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