The Call: Thunder-Clippers Game 5

By Sekou Smith,

VIDEO: Stu Jackson joins the Hang Time Podcast crew to clarify the controversial call at the end of the Thunder-Clippers Game 5 game

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS — Rule 8, Section II-c of the NBA rule book hasn’t gotten this much attention since it was first written.

But the text is being cited in all corners of the basketball universe as we try to make sense of what happened in the final seconds of Game 5 of the Los Angeles Clippers-Oklahoma City Thunder Western Conference semifinal Tuesday night in Oklahoma City.

Clippers coach Doc Rivers called it potentially a “series-defining call.” Thunder coach Scott Brooks said he definitely saw a foul that wasn’t called on Matt Barnes for slapping the hand of Reggie Jackson as Jackson frantically raced toward the basket with the Thunder’s comeback on the line with 11.3 seconds to play. (Brooks admitted, though, he couldn’t tell from the replays who touched the ball last as it went out of bounds.)

Whatever the case, after Barnes of the Clippers slapped at the ball and caught OKC’s Jackson on the left hand, after the ball went out of bounds (seemingly, in many people’s eyes, off Jackson’s right hand), referee Tony Brothers signaled OKC ball.

The refs went to the video replays to see who last touched the ball, but the replays, they said, were inconclusive. So Oklahoma City retained possession and went on to win, 105-104, completing a stunning comeback from 13 points down with 3:30 left to take a 3-2 lead in the best-of-seven series.

And a controversy was born.

Here is the replay of the controversial call, including some of the most poignant responses from the Clippers, who (they admitted) wouldn’t have been in a position for the call to matter if they’d have taken care of business:

VIDEO: The controversial call in question from Game 5 of the Thunder-Clippers series

And here’s what Rule 8, Section II-c states:

… If a player has his hand in contact with the ball and an opponent hits the hand causing the ball to go out-of-bounds, the team whose player had his hand on the ball will retain possession.

Not long after the call, Stu Jackson, the NBA’s former Vice President for Basketball Operations, made it clear that he thought the right call was made on the floor — pointing to 8-II-c — and that the replay rule was used properly.

We couldn’t let Jackson get away with just a 140-character response. We needed more and the Hang Time Podcast crew got it from Jackson this morning.

Complicating the whole matter is the statement from Brothers after the game. A pool reporter was dispatched to get a clarification on the ruling and returned with what appears to be a simple — though certainly not satisfactory to everybody — explanation.

Please provide clarification on the out-of bounds play with 11.3 seconds remaining in regulation in which Oklahoma City was awarded possession.

Tony Brothers:

“When the ball goes out of bounds, the ball was awarded to Oklahoma City. We go review the play. We saw two replays. The two replays we saw were from the overhead camera showing down, and the one from under the basket showing the same angle but from a different view. And from those two replays, it was inconclusive as to who the ball went out of bounds off of. When it’s inconclusive, we have to go with the call that was on the floor.”

We know what Rivers thinks of that explanation. You can bet Clippers fans around the world agree wholeheartedly with their coach.

The Thunder and their fans, of course, are just glad to be on the other side of a crazy finish after surrendering a 22-point lead in Game 4 in Los Angeles on Sunday.

Whatever the case, the buildup for Game 6 Thursday night in Los Angeles — where the Clippers have to win in order to keep their season alive — couldn’t get any bigger.


  1. Darius says:

    BS. If you missed the foul, then OK, but the ball possession should’ve belong to the Clips. Imma S.A Spurs fan, so I could care less which team proceeds, cuz they both go lose. I just think this is poor politics in the league. There is no way in Hades, you could say that ball left off of the Clippers hands. I’m sorry, It’s just so evident that these refs and paid to do more than officiate these games. That was a series defining call, and of course, they made the wrong one!!!

  2. Blog-So-Hard-2014 says:

    Tough luck CP3. Great point guard, but too slow to be that small (try Ty Lawson or Nate Robinson)

  3. ImJusSayin says:

    Does the NBA think it’s fans are that dumb. This explanation is just as bad as the call anyone who even excepts it needs to just google it and see any one of the replays that the ref’s didn’t have (BS) that shows it going off the other hand. Then to back the call up made it worse. Do the clippers even really have a chance or is this part of keeping the value down for the forced sale????

  4. Sir23 says:

    If you click on the link in the article above and read Rule 8, Section II-c, you will see that it does NOT include this language: “If a player has his hand in contact with the ball and an opponent hits the hand causing the ball to go out-of-bounds, the team whose player had his hand on the ball will retain possession.”

    So, I’d like to know, where exactly one can find that language.

  5. sam says:

    just wondering why Stu Jackson and Tony Brothers have different explanations!? Also, if most of you are saying that Stu is correct, take a look at this, Matt Barnes hit Jackson’s LEFT hand and the ball was touched last by his RIGHT hand!! #Heatfan

  6. Antonio Perez says:

    this is for ThaRef49
    yeah very good and professional right always makes the right call and what about this guy
    Tim Donaghy he was making the right calls for the team that pays him and he was found guilty

  7. Antonio Perez says:

    the out bounds play is not just the only controversial play that is just one of many specially in the last minutes, is not the same when the refs make a call during the course of the game 1 quarter 2 quarter 3 quarter 4 quarter, that when the refs make a call at the end of the game at the end is when it really matters that’s when you win or lose the game i’m not a clip or a okc fan i like things fair the refs screw up the clips that’s what i saw i’m sorry for my sincerity

  8. ThaRef49 says:

    If you have not officiated a ball game then you do not understand. the NBA ref’s are the best in the business and they made the right call and followed the correct process. The NBA rule have been given to you so more on!!!!!

  9. ImJusSayin says:

    Does Stu really believe any of us that are not OKC Superfans buys that false and twisted explanation? Wring had hit the ball last no matter how you look at it. And why didn’t they have access to the front angle everyone else watched?

  10. JOhn says:

    Talk about fouling the three point shooter. The last couple games Clipper were flopping by kicking their legs out while jumping in the air. Doc River cried because this is his first year and he didn’t want to follow Mark Jackson footstep. Even CP3 admitted that he was the main cause for loosing the game so get it over. BY the way of the five games played the Clipper were outplayed three games so stop blaming the ref…..

  11. Harlan says:

    Down the stretch all the calls went the Thunder way but regardless there’s no doubt the Clippers (especially Chris Paul) choked down the stretch and it should have never gotten that close. Russell Westbrook badly outplayed Chris Paul who should relinquish his title of Best Point Guard in the League and give it to Westbrook. Clippers first mistake was milking the clock while on multiple occasions jacking up threes with a few seconds left on the shot clock so that backfired on them.

    With regards to the calls could the league not want to see the Clippers win a championship this year? With the current Sterling fiasco going on wouldn’t it be a PR disaster for a team still owned by Sterling win a championship? Sure he’s been banned from the NBA, but the bottom-line is he still owns the team.

  12. Mleh says:


  13. Antonio Perez says:

    short and simple stolen game fixed rigged whatever you want to call it , now i think i seen it all , the clips had a foul to give they give the foul but no foul call the ref allow continuation 2nd time i see the same thing this week , everything was weird one after the other it started with jordan offensive foul from there on all the calls in favor of okc i don’t have a problem with durant 3 pointer when you win clean by scoring points making shots fine but fixing calls to help you score points don’t insult my intelligence and at the end they smack cp hand of course no foul call either , i like the nba from the 90’s tough old school defense , now you can’t even try to play d because that’s a foul so i guess i’m just suppose to let you shoot and stay away from you , this is a series where i wanted the best team to win clean

  14. okcDoke2014 says:

    I thought Clippers had game and then inconclusive giving position to wrong team. Is it rigged or what? The way they swap wins leans series to OKC

  15. unbelievable says:

    This was by far the most rigged NBA game that I have ever witnessed. I will never again watch another NBA game. If you want a team to win, then win it the right way, not the way I witnessed last night.

  16. Bob says:

    It’s completely irrelevant to bring up arguments about referees missing calls and calling them human, the fact of the matter is that as badly as clippers played the last few minutes they still had the game, OKC needed to get lucky. You can disregard every other controversial element that occurred if you want to, the problem here is that you watch a replay, it clearly shows that it’s Clippers ball and you call it something different. The replay system is in place precisely for reasons like this, it’s completely incomprehensible that you miss what happened as a professional referee while the entire building is able to see different. This is not about simply missing a call, this sort of stuff should get you fired.
    The 3 point foul on the other hand was inconclusive, there may or may not have been a tap on the wrist, we can’t really see it on the replay, that’s the one you can give the referees the benefit of doubt, but the out of bounds play was very clear. Both are called against the Clippers.

    • okckd35 says:

      What about the clear foul on barnes that wasnt callled. Had the refs not “screwed” OKC they would have gotten FT to tie. The fact is CP3 is a flopper. He tried for the long shot flop,got the ball stolen and let his team lose.

  17. Jim Muncy says:

    I don’t think people understand the rules. “The hand is part of the ball.” Clearly Barns smacked Jackson’s hand. That is legal. You can do that. No fowl on Jackson. That is why you need Rule 8, Section II-c. If I can hit your hand while in contact with the ball, then what happens if I hit your hand so hard that the ball goes out of bounds as a result of my hit? Well, if hitting your hand is like hitting the ball then if I hit the ball out of bounds via hitting your hand, then naturally it should be out on me. Rule 8, Section II-c makes sense. Now look at the replay. Clearly, the reason the ball went out of bounds was because because Barns hit Jackson’s left HAND which was in contact with the ball. “Hand is part of the ball.” No foul. If that was the contact that sent the ball out of bounds (as it was), then clearly Barns sent the ball out of bounds by hitting the hand. Thus, refer to Rule 8, Section II-c: “… If a player has his hand in contact with the ball and an opponent hits the hand causing the ball to go out-of-bounds, the team whose player had his hand on the ball will retain possession.” Look at the replay. That is exactly what happened. Ball, OKC. Now here is the questionable part. On its way out of bounds, the ball may have hit Jackson’s RIGHT hand after having been sent on its way out of bounds by Barnes. If so, ball Clips. If not, ball OKC. Now, looking at all the angles, I cannot conclusively say it did or did not. Somebody show me a still frame that conclusively shows the ball in contact with Jackson’s RIGHT hand after Barnes had hit Jackson’s LEFT hand sending the ball out of bounds and I will form an opinion here. If Barnes’ right hand did not hit the ball on its way out, then the refs were 100% correct. No foul. Out on Clips. OKC ball. If that was the call that was made on the floor and the replay was inconclusive (regarding Jackson’r right hand) the play stands. Forget the conspiracy theories. Forget the rant that Doc Rivers gave saying he was robbed. Unless you can show “conclusively” that the ball was out on Jackson’s RIGHT hand the refs made the only call they could make from the replay. Basketball has rules (including Rule 8, Section II-c and the rule that the replay has to be conclusive for an overturn). The refs perfectly followed those rules.

    • Game Time says:

      1st angle 38-41 seconds. Barnes commits the foul/contact around 39-40secs at 41 secs you can see Barnes are is off Jackson and the ball is still touching Jacksons hand.

      2nd angle 54 seconds exactly in the video. Barnes can clearly be seen no touching Jackson anymore while Jacksons hand is STILL touching the ball.

      If it’s not a foul then it’s out on Jackson.

    • Joshua Greenfarb says:

      It’s the rules! Jim Muncy is correct. Barnes thwacked the ball out of bounds! Thunder ball. Period. It’s that old school term: hand is part of the ball. After the game, TNT and NBA TV and ESPN all showed that specific rule. CORRECT CALL. The same call was made at the end of the Heat – Nets Game 5. Same call was made (I think) in Game 3 of the Thunder – Clipper series. Period.

      It doesn’t matter if it was off Jackson last in this particular instance. Hand part of the ball. Barnes forced the ball out of bounds. It was out on him. The ball soared out of bounds because of Barnes, 100%. That’s where the rule is applied. Period.

  18. the truth says:

    This rule only applies if the slap on the hand causes the ball to go out of bounds immediately. However that’s not the case, because jacksons right hand is what made it go out of bounds. You can see the ball change direction, there’s no way the ball would go in that direction considering the way barnes slapped it. You can see at 40 seconds that the ball is still in reggies hand, and matts hand is nowhere near the ball. Therefore the slap did not cause the ball to go out of bounds, it was his other hand. You can see clear as day the ball followed the direction his right hand went in.

    • Joshua Greenfarb says:

      Are you blind? The replays clearly showed the ball soar out of bounds because of Matt Barnes, 100%. If anything, Barnes could have been called for a foul because the momentum forced Reggie Jackson out of control, plummeting to the ground. But, the momentum that caused the ball to soar out of bounds was because of (100%) Matt Barnes’ strip of the ball!

  19. B.Trilla says:

    The refs have been trying to sabotage the clippers this entire playoffs. Blake gets beat up and bloodied 2 games in a row with no calls,punched in the nuts, everytime he goes to the rim he gets hacked and no call. But everytime the clips looked at westbrick or Durant wrong they went to the line. If u go back to the GSW series, draymond green fouled cp3 causing the ball to go out of bounds n the refs gave GSW the ball, so y couldn’t they do it the same way this time? Even when cp3 lost the ball to westbrick in the backcourt he was fouled on his arm… no call… then to end the game Jackson clearly slaps his arm when he lost the ball, and no call… far more contact on those 2 plays than the westbrick 3 point shot, that’s not opinion, that’s fact

  20. Marx Dave says:

    Barnes committed a foul no doubt. Westbrook was slightly fouled when he went up for a three. Crawford was awarded a four point play being slightly touched while shooting a three. Refs did a good job. Fouls that weren’t fouls were called and some fouls weren’t called.

  21. let's be honest says:

    It really boils down to some amateurish play…sure calls were missed, calls are missed all the time. But here’s my theory:

    1) Crawford should’ve made the initial layup on the other end BEFORE Durant’s fastbreak.
    2) CP3 should’ve done a better job protecting the ball on the sideline after the inbounds (was it a foul on Westbrook, who knows, it wasn’t called)
    3) CP3 should’ve immediately fouled Jackson when he gained possesion
    4) Jackson should’ve given the ball up. Its a 3 on 1 fastbreak and both of your options are high flying, crazy athletic superstars that already have 20+ points apiece. And you drive to the cup yourself…?? Really…?? REALLY…??

    And then none of this would’ve happened. We can debate all day and all night about what the correct call was, but this could’ve (and should’ve) been avoided, especially at this level. Not to be too harsh, but this is the NBA, play like this is uncalled for. Looked like a middle school match. N I’m not even an OKC nor a LAC fan, I’m a fan of basketball played properly.

    But this is what the NBA wants, this is what sells tickets. High flying, energetic, exciting, controversial, sloppy basketball.

    Bad publicity is still publicity…ticket sales and commercial ads will still be through the roof because people are still going to pay to watch it. Especially now that it’s controversial.

    • Ramon says:

      Good Statement!
      I agree in every Point.
      But I also have to say, they are humans who also get nervous and that’s why it was such a thrilling game!

  22. bandsawh says:

    So funny that fans of the Clippers, who root for a team that blatantly and continuously makes an effort to deceive the refs as part of its game plan, are so upset about what they consider screw-ups by the refs. You should be disgusted by the tactics used by your set of actors. Go back and review the whole game and you’ll see more missed calls favored the Clips by a large amount. They didn’t handle the moment and lost. Live with it.

    • Dennis Miranda says:

      Such a blanket statement against the clippers and their fans is atrocious as if their intent is to deceive. If that is the case then all plays which potenitally compromise the integrity of an individual or a team should not be allowed like Durants rip-through when shooting the ball. His intent is not to shoot the basketball but to draw a foul. I think what the clippers and clippers fan are upset about is the lack of consistency in interpreting the rules during a reviewable play. Clippers lost to golden state due to an out of bounds call against CP3 even though Draymond greene clearly fouled CP3 and the warriors were awarded the ball. The 8-II-C rule does not apply in this situation as there is conclusive evidence that after Matt barnes hit reggie jackson’s hand which made the ball come loose that it came in contact with his other arm and hand.

    • kitten mittens says:

      exactly, talk about hypocrisy

  23. Jack says:

    Fine Doc Rivers for crying about the ref calls !!! Every other player or coach gets fined … No double standards for cry baby Doc Rivers…

  24. Bob says:

    They really should be able to do something about things like this, I’ve never seen the referees so blatantly reward the other team with a win, we should be able to fine or administer some other form of penalty for such obvious misuse of power, if with a replay the official cannot perform with competence then he has no business calling in these games. I want to see a fair game between 2 NBA teams, not a circus show being performed by the referees. This is coming from a Spurs fan.

    • Your Floppiness says:

      everyone is acting like this rule was writen last night. It’s been there for years!

  25. Chris says:

    That should’ve been a foul call. Which would have actually hurt the clippers a lot less. 2 free throws vs Westbrooks 3pt foul? Yeah I’m taking my chances on a tie.

    While cp3 failed back to back to close out, the officiating was terrible. First off Ibaka shouldn’t be in the game, period. Inadvertent contact? It’s the second time he’s hit Blake in the groin, Randolph gets suspended for a series clinching game, Ibaka gets away with violating a mans nuts twice.

    36 free throws to the clippers 20. I am a fan of neither team, but that was bogus officiating. Still clippers shouldn’t have out themselves in the position for that one play to matter. Though that was the second time in the final quarter they gave OKC the ball on a terrible out of bounds call that should’ve been lac ball.

  26. Al F says:

    The NBA is so rigged it’s not even funny. Game 6 of the WCF OKC-Spurs made that very clear.

    • Your Floppiness says:

      I know right. every contact CP3 or Griffin gets they try so hard selling a foul, so when he does’nt flop its hard to tell if he was fouled?

    • Joshua Greenfarb says:

      No, you’re taking out of context. This looks doctored. On the video replay, it appeared Jackson got ALL BALL when he stripped the ball out Paul’s hands. I didn’t see this part. But … THAT didn’t cause the ball out of CP3’s hands. It was when Jackson stripped the ball clean away from CP3.

      Plus, they probably didn’t call a foul anyway because CP3 came to a jump-stop on that last play. It was CP3’s fault for coming to a complete halt. Refs won’t bail you out on a play like that. And because CP3 wasn’t in mid-air shooting the ball, so the refs won’t call a foul on that.

      If you’re in mid-air on a jumpshot, however, and the defender touches the shooter’s shooting elbow, that is an automatic foul on CP3.

  27. bbjonez says:

    The Mothers Day Miracle is followed by the Oklahoma City Blunder.

  28. MAC says:

    I’m a Clipper fan and Clippers are to blame, bad call or not. They had the lead at the end and didn’t secure it. They let it go. Now they’re gonna have to make up for that in the next two games. They better bring their A game. They can do it!

  29. Hans Boerstra says:

    Simple physics would have solved this: look at Barnes flow of the hand, the ball could have never gone off his hands if you look at the balls trajectory. There is no way you can move your hand like that and make the ball go straight out of bounds. It must have been touched by Jackson’s hand.

  30. jdub455 says:

    CP3 gotta make up for this coz he cost them the game… BIGTIME!! too many errors… and his teammates didnt help either… they choked when OKC began hitting long shots… I’m a heat fan so i like this win coz okc can handle the spurs while miami wud rather hav okc in the finals rather than the spurs… 🙂

  31. Stephen says:

    Everyone in the world can plainly see the ball is last touched by OKC. The rule doesn’t apply because Barnes never touched the hand the ball went out on. To award Westbrook three free throws immediately afterwards added insult to injury. Doc Rivers is absolutely right in saying they “got robbed” and the call was a potential, and likely, “series defining call.” The Clippers are having to win five games instead of four to move forward. Even with Chris Paul’s multiple mistakes, it was that obviously bad call that decided the game.

    • Joshua Greenfarb says:

      He doesn’t have to touch the hand it went out on. Barnes stripped the ball out of Reggie’s hands. The rule applies. TNT is right. NBA TV is right. ESPN is right. That’s the rule.

  32. Game Time says:

    Only two calls I see that could have been made if the refs reviewed that. They are 1. Foul on Barnes (but even then it looks arguable) 2. Ball out of bounds off Jackson. That rule really makes no sense. For instance if the ball is knocked away from a player by the defense, but the ball touches the offensive player before going out of bounds it’s still belongs to the offensive player? Really?

  33. EuropeGuy says:

    4 responses, ALL CORRECT! Jesus! How can anybody from the league, and Kenny “Joke” Smith tells other thing??? They saw the games when sleeping… It’s the only reason I “can” understand they “points” of view.

  34. jolene says:

    Just to add clarification to my previous comment, if this rule applied to shooting or going up with the ball that would mean every blocked shot, which involves some had most of the time, would always be awarded to the shooting team. This rule has to pertain strictly to dribble and therefore being applied incorrectly to this situation.

  35. jolene says:

    The rule is being applied incorrectly anyhow. It specifically says hand, meaning during dribble. The ball is clearly in two hands for OKC and when contacted one hand becomes free and the other pushed the ball out of bounds. This is LAC ball as the rule only pertains to dribbling and single ‘hand’.

  36. Javier says:

    Im a Spurs fan and im complitly objective about this. First that ball went out of bounds from Jackson hand those who argue are blind simple as that. Second it was a foul but the judge missed that call so they review the other part. Thrird you cant compensate this by saying i missed the foul so i will give the ball to Ok city because 4 seconds later Westbrook resieve a foul in a 3point shot so you end rewarding a team with 3 shots instead of 2. This was a terrible mistakes by the judges no doubt.
    And last but not less important Clips ends loseing the game because of C. Paul that looked like an amateur player makeing mistake after mistake.

    • Game Time says:

      Clipper fan, and I fully agree. In the end CP3 shoulders the burden for losing the ball on the last play, but to we have to acknowledge the erroneous 3pt call that put OKC over the top.

  37. vern says:

    Tony Brothers is one of the worst refs in the NBA. Every game I see him do he makes a bunch of bad calls or either misses the call all together.

  38. A says:

    (Blazer fan here, and I am not a big fan of either of these teams) It definitely went off of Reggie Jackson, however, if it should have been OKC ball because Barnes slapped Jackson’s hand, then that rule should be applied to every time that happens. There are many cases when that rule isn’t applied and it would just be off of the person who touched it last. Also, since when do you only use two angles for replay???? In an instant replay situation, you look at it from many angles, and any angle would have told you that it went off of Jackson, and some of them were more conclusive than the other.

    • Chris says:

      If he smacked his hand, Jackson should’ve been taking free throws. Which would’ve avoided Westbrooks three free throws. Refs conveniently over looked that didn’t they?

      • A says:

        Yes, It was a foul, but that wasn’t called. I think that they should be able to call a foul in a situation like that after replay, but that isn’t a rule.

        And from your comment, you said the refs overlooked the foul which resulted in three free throws for Westbrook. I can guarantee that the refs didn’t plan on that. Even as a Clippers fan, you have to be a complete moron to thing the refs missed that call to give Westbrook three free throws…