NEW YORK -- The NBA admitted Chauncey Billups' 3-pointer at the end of the third quarter of Monday's Detroit-Orlando playoff game should not have counted, but said referees weren't allowed to review instant replay to determine that.
League president Joel Litvin also said the disputed shot, which gave Detroit a 78-76 lead in its 100-93 victory, could not have been replayed after the clock malfunction was discovered.
"After reviewing the video of last night's Pistons-Magic game, we determined that the play that concluded with Chauncey Billups' 3-point field goal at the end of the third quarter took approximately 5.7 seconds," Litvin said in a statement. "Because there were only 5.1 seconds remaining in the quarter when the play began, the shot would not have counted had the clock continued to run."
Billups was bringing the ball up the court for the Pistons when the clock froze at 4.8 seconds because of a problem with the arena's timing system. After he made the shot, the game referees had to estimate how long the play took without the aid of replay because the league's rules don't allow for reviewing a play to determine when the clock started.
The league said the timekeeper who worked the game was from a "neutral" city, standard procedure for all games.
After the game, Orlando coach Stan Van Gundy said the referees indicated it took 4.6 seconds to complete the play. Lead official Steve Javie declined a postgame interview by a pool reporter.
"The referees followed proper procedure in addressing the clock malfunction by estimating the elapsed time and using their judgment as to whether the shot was taken in time," Litvin said. "Under NBA rules, the referees did not have the option of using instant replay and a timing device to determine exactly how much time had elapsed, nor do the rules allow for a re-play after a clock malfunction is discovered."
The NBA frequently talks about expanding the instant-replay capabilities for game officials, but this might finally get the league to act.
"The NBA Competition Committee was scheduled to discuss the possible expanded use of instant replay at its meeting at the end of the month and we will raise, for the Committee's consideration, the use of replay in situations like this," Litvin said.