Inadvertent whistle went Lakers' way

Updated: February 27, 2004, 3:14 AM ET
Associated Press

NEW YORK -- The NBA acknowledged Thursday there was an officiating mistake in the final minute of the Los Angeles Lakers' 112-111 victory over the host Denver Nuggets and suspended the official.

With the Nuggets leading Wednesday night's game 111-109, a shot by Denver's Andre Miller appeared to brush the rim and barely beat the shot clock. Teammate Carmelo Anthony got the rebound, but the whistle blew for a shot-clock violation. The officials huddled and ruled it was an inadvertent whistle, resulting in a jump ball.

The Lakers won the tip, leading to Kareem Rush's winning 3-pointer with 3.2 seconds left.

But NBA senior VP Stu Jackson said Thursday that there shouldn't have been a whistle on the play.

"That call was incorrect because the ball, in fact, hit the rim," Jackson said. "This was an unfortunate call at a highly critical point in the game, and we very much regret the error."

The National Basketball Referees Association said the league suspended referee Michael Henderson for three games and summoned him to New York for a meeting with league officials.

The group said the referee had followed NBA guidelines in making his call, but made a mistake.

"Yet rather than a traditional fine, the NBA is out-of-bounds in its actions," said Lamell McMorris of the NBRA.

Speaking before the Lakers faced the Sacramento Kings on Thursday night, coach Phil Jackson maintained that Miller's shot didn't hit the rim and Anthony fouled Kobe Bryant as he got the rebound.

"You just see the ball disappear below the rim," Jackson said. "I've never heard of a decision like that rendered by the league office."

The Lakers coach said Michael Henderson got the call right when he ruled Miller's shot missed the rim, but was overruled by Jack Nies and Jess Kersey, the more experienced officials.


Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press

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