HANG TIME NEW JERSEY BUREAU — On Wednesday night, with his team down two points with 1.6 seconds left in the game, Hang Time favorite Luke Ridnour was quick-thinking. But he was also quick-footed, and that was his problem.
The Wolves were down three when Rudy Gay fouled Ridnour near the midcourt line. And since they were out of timeouts, Minnesota couldn’t advance the ball to their side of the floor after another set of Memphis free throws. So Gay’s foul, which prevented the Wolves from attempting a game-tying 3-pointer, was a good play, even though he seemed to protest the call afterward.
And at that point, the Wolves’ only chance at sending the game to overtime was for Ridnour to make the first three throw, for the Wolves to rebound the second one, and follow it up with a bucket.
In that situation, a player would normally take his time and try to put the ball off the back or side of the rim. But Ridnour caught the Grizzlies sleeping by throwing it hard off the front of the rim as soon as he got the ball from the baseline official. And it ricocheted right back to him in time for him to get off an open 12-foot shot.
But Ridnour was a little over-anxious, and stepped over the free throw line early. You can watch the whole sequence transpire in the clip above, but pay attention around the 1:13 mark.
While the players lined up alongside of the lane can step into the paint when the shot is released, the shooter is not allowed to step over the line until the ball hits the rim. And the slow-motion replay above shows that Ridnour did just that.
Here’s the exact wording of the rule from the 2011-12 NBA Rule Book (pdf)…
The free throw shooter may not step over the plane of the free throw line until the
ball touches the basket ring, backboard or the free throw ends.
With the play happening so quickly, it was a good call by outside official Gary Zielinski. Ridnour had committed a violation, the Grizzlies were awarded the ball, and the Wolves lost their opportunity to catch their opponent by surprise.
It will be interesting to see if the Wolves go with the same quick-throw strategy should they face the same situation later in the season, and if their opponent (as well as the officiating crew) is ready for it.