Orlando got screwed.
There's no better way to say it. The Magic are feeling good right about now. They dominated the Pistons Wednesday night to cut their series' deficit in half to 2-1. Not only that, but Detroit point guard Chauncey Billups might miss Saturday's Game 4 in Orlando.
But the Magic, perhaps, should be feeling even better. As in, up 2-1 with the Pistons starting to sweat.
That's because the Pistons got a free three points in their slim 100-93 Game 2 victory Monday night. At the end of the third quarter, The Palace of Auburn Hills' clock froze, allowing Billups to swish a long-range 3-pointer while the clock was stuck on 4.8 seconds.
The officials did what they were supposed to do, approximating — in their heads — the time it took Billups to weave his way up the floor, pass to Rodney Stuckey and then receive the ball back before shooting. They called it a 4.6-second sequence. In reality, as any stopwatch would have demonstrated, it took approximately 5.7 seconds.
Obviously, the officials were slow counters.
The NBA admitted the mistake the day after the game, but the damage was done. Only a very small percentage of NBA teams have come back from a 2-0 series' deficit to win a series. Despite their Game 3 win, the odds remain stacked against the Magic.
The NBA must act on this. When asked Wednesday night about it, commissioner David Stern said the Competition Committee will review the rule in the offseason. When it does, it should be a no-brainer to make this amendment to the rule:
Officials may use a stopwatch or T.V. truck clock to review any situation when the game clock freezes. It's a very simple solution.
Currently, the clock can be reviewed only when it runs out at the end of a quarter. This leaves way too much room for scenarios like Monday's to occur. In a tight game, a clock malfunction can be the difference.
There really is no counter argument here. NBA games generally last about two and a half hours. An additional three minutes to review a situation like Monday's wouldn't make the length of a game unbearable.
The only issue is whether what happened should be reviewed or re-played. If the officials had correctly ruled that Billups' shot shouldn't have counted, the Pistons could have argued that they had no barometer of how much time was left since the clock was stuck. They could have asked for the 5.1 seconds to be played over.
And I have nothing against that argument. Estimating 5.1 ticks is just as difficult for players as it is for the men in black and white.
I could lean either way. What's certain is that a change needs to be made before next season.
And let's hope the Magic don't lose this series 4-3.