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Referees on Dion Waiters' inbounds shove: 'Never seen before'

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Referees on Dion Waiters' inbounds shove: 'Never seen before'

If you went to bed Monday night before the final frantic seconds of Oklahoma City's Game 2 win over San Antonio then you missed a play nobody has ever seen before. That's not hyperbole, but rather what just about everyone from analyst Chris Webber in real time to the "Inside the NBA" crew following the game to the referees well after the fact.

That the referees reacted then and the day after as if Dion Waiters shoving Manu Ginobili while attempting to throw the ball inbounds compared to a UFO sighting is remarkable.

You can watch the entire sequence below, but here's an isolated look at the shove that changed the world.

Now, here's what the refs on the scene told a pool reporter following the Thunder's 98-97 win which evened the best-of-7 series 1-1.

On Tuesday afternoon, the The National Basketball Referees Association tweeted out the following statement.

Look, we get it, this play was rare if not a true unicorn. How to handle such a sequence isn't taught in official official's classes, cool. 

That doesn't mean go into deer-in-the-headlights mode. Go back and view the first clip above and note where the ref is positioned. If that guy can't see something squirrely happened then not sure what we're all doing here. 

Even if the "we've never seen this before" angle on the shove led to freezing in the moment, how about dealing with what else happened on the play?

Waiters channeled Kris Kross with his jump, which may have looked unkosher in the moment, but was deemed "permissible" because he went straight up and down rather than side-to-side. Not all agree with that interpretation.

Now, was Ginobili, as some have asserted, technically too close to the passer as the defender? Yes, according to the NBA's "last two minute report" which states Ginobili should have been called for a violation after stepping on the sideline. If the refs whistle the play dead, discuss and call some sort of do-over because both were at fault -- Waiters' shove and Ginobili's step -- maybe that flies. It beats what happened.

Wait, there's more. Per the two-minute report, Patty Mills and Kawhi Leonard should have been called for defensive holding on the inbounds pass. Meanwhile Serge Ibaka grabbed a handful of LaMarcus Aldridge's jersey as the Spurs forward attempted a putback in the final seconds. Also missed. 

Here's a suggestion to those teaching the NBA referees on what should be the primary takeaway from this rarest of rare plays. Forget the shove or even the jump. Teach your refs how to think on their feet.

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John Wall goes through full practice for first time since left knee surgery

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John Wall goes through full practice for first time since left knee surgery

John Wall crossed one of the biggest hurdles of his months-long recovery from arthroscopic left knee surgery on Saturday by participating in his first full practice.

That means Wall went through 5-on-5 scrimmages with teammates that included contact. He is free of restrictions.

Now it is only a matter of days before Wall is ready to return to game action.

"John did everything, he did an entire practice which was great," head coach Scott Brooks said. "I thought he did a great job offensively and defensively."


Wall, who last played on Jan. 25 against the Oklahoma City Thunder, has missed the Wizards' last 24 games. He has been absent for 35 of their 72 total games this season.

In the months he has been out, Wall has slowly worked his way to this point. He still has to get a few more practices under his belt before the Wizards can outline a target date for his return.

Wall was aggressive in testing his knee by attacking the basket, according to Brooks. Wall was moving around well and even lost a few pounds during his time off.

"He looks great and that's not easy with time off," Brooks said. "He will be back in no time."


The Wizards have gone 14-10 since Wall went down, an impressive mark especially considering how tough their schedule shook out. Most of those games came against teams with winning records either holding playoff spots or fighting for them.

The shine, though, is wearing off. They have lost two straight games and seven of their last 11. Their offense has stalled in recent defeats and it's become more and more clear they could use Wall's presence.

"He gives us that edge," Wall said. "When you have him on the floor, you get a lot of easy shots. John creates a lot of attention when he drives to the basket... I think [his teammates] have always appreciated it, but when you don't have him around you definitely miss it."

While the Wizards continue to wait for Wall to return to games, just having him in practices helps. Brooks explained how guarding a player of Wall's caliber, a five-time All-Star, raises the intensity level of their scrimmages. If his teammates do not bring their best effort, Wall can very easily expose them.


There is also something intangible about Wall's presence. The media sees it once the doors open at practice. He is talkative and energetic on the court.

Some of his teammates even described him as "loud."

"Sometimes I tell him that he's a little too loud," guard Bradley Beal said. "But that's the energy that we've missed."

"He brings the juice. He brings the energy level up," Brooks said. "You miss his spirit. You miss the way he interacts with guys. He's fiery and competitive. He gets after guys. He cheers guys on. I like that. I like guys that show emotion and passion on the court."

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Wizards display lack of urgency in loss to Nuggets and Scott Brooks is frustrated

Wizards display lack of urgency in loss to Nuggets and Scott Brooks is frustrated

Following their seventh loss in 11 games and another lackluster performance in key areas, Wizards head coach Scott Brooks reverted back to a critique that characterized many defeats months ago. He called into question the effort of his team, more specifically their urgency. How they could overlook the stakes at this point of the season and with so much on the line had escaped him.

Brooks wasn't pleased following Washington's 108-100 loss to the Denver Nuggets on Friday night. He didn't like their three-point defense, their inability to force turnovers and their lack of zip on offense. But overall, it was the apparent lack of realization that time is running out in the regular season and off-nights cannot be afforded.

"We have to play with more spirit [and] we have to take some pride in our home court," Brooks said. "We’re building our habits going into the playoffs and these are moments where we need to take advantage because it’s playoff implications in every game."


Pride is something Brooks has referenced after the Wizards' worst defeats since he took over. This one didn't qualify, as they only lost by eight points and had opportunities late to write a different ending. But they were playing a team fighting for their own playoff position in the opposite conference and for the most part did not match their intensity.

The Nuggets, to put it plainly, are among the worst defensive teams in basketball. They were missing their leading scorer, Gary Harris. And they tightened their rotation to just eight players.

Yet the Wizards only managed 100 points, six below their season average, and committed 17 turnovers. Aside from their 33-point third quarter, the Wizards' offense was effectively stalled. 

"We can’t have guys that are not going to participate with hard cuts and hard setups and good screens. We need everybody. It’s not one person, it’s all," Brooks said.


The Wizards only forced 10 turnovers on the Nuggets and only three in the first half. That held back their offense in the sense they had few opportunities for fastbreak buckets.

"That’s where we get most of our offense from anyways, getting stops, getting out in transition," forward Otto Porter said.

The Wizards have lost two straight games. Meanwhile, the Cavaliers and Pacers both won on Friday night.

The Wizards are sixth place in the East and just 1 1/2 games out of fourth, but there is a huge difference in those spots. Sixth could mean meeting the Cavs in the first round and they have won three straight since Kevin Love returned from injury.


The Cavaliers could quickly become the most dangerous team in the Eastern Conference. Their record is deceiving due to Love's injury and they still boast LeBron James, the best player on the planet. No one can control a playoff series quite like he can.

An argument could be made the Wizards would be better off moving down than up, as the seventh spot would match them up with the injury-riddled Boston Celtics. The Wizards are just 1 1/2 games ahead of the seventh-seed Miami Heat.

The Wizards, though, would prefer to move up and they still have a chance to get into fourth, which would mean home court advantage.

John Wall will return at some point, likely soon. In the short-term, Brooks would like to some urgency and for his team to get back to the trademark ball movement that allowed them to go 10-3 in their first 13 games when Wall went down.

"We can get it back, but it’s not going to come back. We have to go get it. It’s time to do it; it’s time," Brooks said.

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