HOUSTON – Ball don’t lie.
That’s what our old buddy Rasheed Wallace was fond of saying.
Replay don’t lie.
That’s what the Rockets learned the hard way on Tuesday night.
With 7:52 left in the game, after one of the most pointless and unfruitful possessions of the night, Kyle Lowry had the ball land in his hands as the shot-clocked ran down and he heaved it up as if it were a ticking package.
The ball went into the basket for a 3-pointer. That is, until the next timeout when the referees took a look at the video replay, ruled the bucket late and took the three points off the scoreboard.
With 2:46 left in the game, at the end of another panicky possession, Lowry took off on a frantic drive for the hoop and kept extending his arm, up, up, up and flicked the ball over the outstretched fingertips of Derrick Rose, off the glass and into the hoop just ahead of the shot-clock. Or so he thought, until the referees again went to replay and again wiped out the shot.
On the second shot, even Rose punched at the air, then shook his head in frustration and amazement as he jogged back down the court.
That’s five points off the board for Lowry and for Houston in a game that the struggling Rockets lost 95-92.
Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau, as you might expect, is now a big fan of replay.
“Love it! Love it!” Thibodeau said with a grin. “It’s the best thing that happened to this league. Those were two tough shots that they made and we’re fortunate that they worked in our favor.”
Lowry, to his credit, did not gripe.
“It’s five points that we didn’t get,” he said. “They reviewed it and made the call. I’ve never seen it either. But it’s something that happened and something you deal with. Obviously, they made the right calls after they reviewed it.”
But while Shane Battier didn’t want to be characterized in any way as a sore loser, you can mark him down in the column as a traditionalist.
“I’ve never been a replay guy. Never, ever. Not in any sport,” Battier said. “Judgment calls, replays, mistakes, they’re part of the game, part of sports.
“If we want our games officiated by androids or machines, we can all stay at home and just play video games. As far as I’m concerned, you can take that Fox-trac thing that calls balls and strikes in baseball and toss it out.”
Battier didn’t contend that the calls that went against Lowry and the Rockets weren’t ultimately correct, but that the notion that we have to be sure of everything –- even in sports –- takes away some of the vagaries and the beauty of life.
“We are all professionals and we supposedly have the best referees in the business making these calls,” Battier said. “I say let them make them and then we live with them.
“Look, if this is 1986, we win this game…I know, I know. They were the right calls in the strictest sense. I’m not saying we were robbed. But stuff like that takes away from the spirit of the game. I’d rather always live always with the human element, even when it goes against us.”