Did phantom timeout spare Cavs, Blatt?

VIDEO: David Blatt tries to call a timeout near the end of Game 4

CHICAGO – A timeout that didn’t get called and, frankly, didn’t even exist played an inordinately huge role in Cleveland’s 96-94 victory over the Chicago Bulls at United Center Sunday in Game 4 of the teams’ Eastern Conference semifinals series.

That exciting buzzer-beater by LeBron James might never have happened if Cavaliers coach David Blatt had gotten the attention of one of the three referees immediately after Derrick Rose‘s driving layup tied the game at 84-84 with 9.4 seconds left.

Blatt wanted a timeout – but his team had burned through its final three setting up a play, then trying to inbound the basketball, with 18.8 seconds left. So when Blatt tried to signal for one after Rose’s basket, he came perilously close to earning a technical foul.

Here’s the NBA Rule Book on excessive timeouts (Rule No. 12):

Section I—Excessive Timeouts

  1. Requests for a timeout in excess of the authorized number shall be granted and a technical foul shall be assessed. Following the timeout and free throw attempt, the ball will be awarded to the team which shot the free throw and play shall resume with a throw-in nearest the spot where play was interrupted.

Video shows one ref, Scott Foster, on the far side of the floor from Blatt, preparing for the Cavs to put the ball in play. The other two, Tom Washington and Jason Phillips, appear to be heading into the backcourt. And then Cleveland assistant coach Tyronn Lue can be seen grabbing Blatt.

“Yes, I tried to call one and almost blew it,” Blatt said. “Then they told me we didn’t have one.”

Conceivably, a technical free throw would have put Chicago up 85-84 and the Cavaliers would have had to foul, perhaps pushing the Bulls’ lead to 87-84. The pressure on James’ final shot, if he got one, would have been greater – make it or lose – and it would have had to come from 3-point range. At the very least, Bulls fans will be ruminating on Blatt’s Chris Webber moment that wasn’t.

“That’s why we’re a unit, that’s why we’re a team,” James said. “Players make mistakes, coaches make mistakes and we have to be able to cover for one another. T-Lue did that by covering for Blatt, that’s why I try to cover for my guys on the floor.”


  1. harriethehawk says:

    No! Can there be more than one Hawk fan?

  2. CMA says:

    Is Harry the Hawk the same dude as Don’t Click On My Name? Sure seems like it.

  3. YItz says:

    Chicago bulls coach was on the court when LBJ shot the at the buzzer. check it out! a technical foul for him as well?

  4. Tephee says:

    Cavs is the 2014-201 NBA Champion!!!! Go Beat It!! Mark my word!! P E A C E…

  5. Charles says:

    The refs missed it on purpose cheaters

  6. sanjay says:

    had love been there, bulls would have been blown in each games away by 15 points at least! too many mistakes by cavs is letting them this close. Hope it do not cost them dear. cavs must take the lead at home!

  7. Aubrey Mvula says:

    Good teams always move forward when members are alert and in sync..let the good times roll

  8. harriethehawk says:

    I loved all the buzzer beater shots by Lebron, Pierce and Rose. Don’t hate. Can you do that?

  9. Eddie Perez says:

    So Rose’s shot was garbage? I guess if his shot is garbage than Paul Pierce’s shot and LeBron’s shot must be garbage too. Let me guess, you’ve been a huge fan of Cleveland for 10, maybe 11 months?

    • Brad T says:

      Rose’s shot (and Pierce’s) was lucky since he did not mean to bank it in… Lebrons was on target

  10. Sean says:

    What saved the Cavs was when they had a free time-out when the refs was reviewing who tapped the ball out last. The refs took their time reviewing the tape while unwittingly giving the Cavs a bonus time-out.

    • Brad T says:

      Bah, BOTH teams benefited from the “timeout” and NEITHER team had any timeouts left! So that is NOT just an advantage for the cavs.

      PLUS lebron got fouled and the ref’s didn’t call it, so consider THAT an advantage for the bulls

  11. ledzepp55 says:

    just so you guys know the cavs had twice as many FT as the bulls… so no the bulls did not have an advantage.

  12. LeBronda Le Flopper says:

    Yeah props for hitting the shot. But you see LeBronda pushing Butler all the way down the court then whining like a batch after the play? Watching LeBronda whine about fouls is the new NBA. Should have shoe commercials about how you can hop up and down and throw tantrums in this new shoe

  13. vern says:

    Bad calls on both ends and I guess they even themselves out. I think the problem is when those bad calls are made such as the final seconds of a quarter/game. Cavs got a lucky extra timeout, Bulls got some charge calls in their favor that in my opinion were flops. Such is life in the nba.

  14. Adoo says:

    didn’t see this kind of story in game 6 (Heat-Spurs), after Ray Allen 3…. Spurs also had free time out!!!

  15. Anthony says:

    Lord its amazing how many fanboys flock to Lebrons defense. A WNBA fan can tell the deciding factor in the game was the ref “timeout”.

  16. dawesome1 says:

    if the cavs had K-love and kyrie 100%, they could’ve- i’m not saying the would’ve- spanked the bulls, with or without Pau Gasol.

  17. Willroll1 says:

    Cavs vs Clippers Finals!!!

    • swerve803 says:

      Y’all hating on LeBron fo what ?? Y’all don’t even know tha dude , and hawks going all the way . “Turn my haters into fans”

  18. Anonymous says:

    Gotta leave Lebron alone, what is just simple basketball some of you guys in the comments section make Lebron look bad. How do you feel if everything you tried to do was scrutinized and criticized and tells you friends and family by a few guys?. How you would feel if someone turns your accidents in to things that you actually want to do. Hey root for who you want to root for, just letting James know I root for him. Let him play the game, it is more than teams whinning or losing here, it’s stress and you would not want someone or something to be picking on you constantly everyday

  19. Ed says:

    To me, it doesn’t matter. The refs didn’t call Noah’s obvious foul on LeBron at the end of the game. If they did, he shoots 2 free throws for the game. Yes, the Cavs got an extra timeout, but if the refs called the play right, it wouldn’t have even come to that.

    • John alexander says:

      You can look at it that way if the foul was called lebron hits them bulls have several seconds to hit a three alla rose friday night it’s now agame of what if’s

  20. dave says:

    it’s funny to say that call was unfair, cause LBJ was fauled by Noah in last shot before buzzer

  21. LBJ Fan says:

    LMAO…. You Mad?



  23. Together says:

    So the refs wanted the Cavs to win the game by calling 2 offensive fouls on LeBron James, up by 5, with 1 minute left in the 4th Quarter of a crucial Game 4? Makes sense.

  24. Terry Reed says:

    Cheese with the whine? Grow up Bulls! Noah threw an elbow and yada-yada. The refs had to review the play to determine the time left on the clock. Both teams proceeded to the bench area for an opportunity review the upcoming OB play. LBJ made a very simple V-cut, received the ball and took a very controlled jumper and you know the rest. WINNER! Unlike the garbage Rose threw up and plunked off the board. If you don’t win this series, you won’t get the Cavs for a long time. Double-double and #3 scorer out with shoulder, Kyrie playing on one foot and Shump with a severe groin pull- better get em now or forever hold you whining.

  25. marion says:

    refs are actually in favor of bulls

  26. marion says:

    Bulls clearly lost the game. The free timeout you are crying about doesnt give a point. But the non-call on Noah clearly obviously jumped on james denied cleveland two free throws. thats a game changer. Refs are actually in favor of james. calling 3 offensive fouls. the one called with Noah was not an offensive fould because he was moving on the path of lebron.

  27. marion says:

    Bulls fans complaining a lot about the call. excuses after excuses. What about the Lebron drove to the basket last minute of the game? NOah clearly jumped on him and fouled him. No call? That was a game changer. Lebron should have been given two free throws. They review the play to know how much time left on the clock its part of the game. still it doesnt decide the game.

  28. Gil says:

    People have short memories and remember only the last play. What about the foul on james that wasn’t called, on the drive to the hoop a few seconds before of end of regulation? James received 2 offensive fouls in the last couple possessions that allowed the bulls to miraculously tie the game. Bulls led 68-57 and blew it. Quit your whining and except that.

  29. Whatifitsyourteam says:

    LOL. Guys, get over it, seriously. How long have you been watching basketball? Things like this happens, whether its Cavs, lakers or any other team. Just get over it and watch Game 5 and see what happens

  30. wtf says:

    well NBA its obvious that you are fixing this series which isnt far at all as bulls have been the far better team. Sad that they have come to match fixing to get their “child” Lebron James into the finals. I wish the wizards/Hawks best of luck getting past Lebron-cavs-refs in the ECF


    • EB says:

      What about Noah fouling LeBron right before he hit the buzzer beater? That wasn’t called. If the refs babied Lebron, then why did they call 2 offensive fouls on him? If he is their “child” then they would’ve not called those 2 fouls. Far better team? With that chuck by Rose to win game 3? Ha.

      • DezNuts says:

        Thank you sir. I’m a Hawk fan and actually pretty objective regardind the Cavs-Bulls series since our team will have problems against both of them.
        But this is exactly what I thought. Some Bulls fans or Lebron haters are just too blind to see what’s really going on on-court.

  31. League rigged says:

    refs are dictating 4 quarters through free throws it was disgusting in last nights mephis g state game they let g state have a huge 4th quarter comeback off phantom fouls.

  32. edgeoftaste says:

    But no one mentioned in those sequences about Noah fouling James under the rim in last seconds. So…refs made mistakes in favour of both teams.

  33. IAmWolveriine says:

    i just remembered the game 7 win of clippers over san antonio spurs.. when the clock was inadvertently turned off by the officiating team on the table, the spurs game play was exposed.. after resetting the remaining time on the clock, the spurs ended up executing the same play and was stopped by the clippers team since they already read the oop play for kawhi.. this maybe off but i’m just saying, these crucial games in playoffs and we’re in an era where even the last seconds in the gameplay matters, if the officiating teams commit errors, they must have penalties.. and all games must be reviewed.. unfiortunately, when a team is declared a winner, that’s final.. just like this one, blatt’s mistake won’t matter anymore..

  34. C F says:

    1. Lebron was clearly fouled on the last play,but no call.
    2.The Bulls coach requested that this play be reviewed, giving them a chance to organize their defense.
    3. Lebron comparing his final shot with Lue stopping Blatt from calling a timeout is just dumb. Lebron’s reckless play was the reason the game was even close. Lebron had to “cover” for his own mistakes, not that of his team.

  35. Jack Ripper says:

    What planet are you guys on that you missed the 15 bad calls that kept the Cavs from winning by 10. Seriously, the only guys who showed up to play for the Bulls were the Refs. This is just sad to see the Bulls turn on their own like this when they did so much to keep them from being blown out. Pathetic headlines. These commenters should actually have to watch the games, not just read their little scripts.

  36. Mhykie says:

    What’s the big deal with this so called ‘phantom timeout’. It’s not like it was only given to the Cavs exclusively. The refs need to review how many time was left after they deemed that the Bulls last touched the ball.. It’s within the rules of The NBA. People should stop being conspiracy theorists. Accept the fact that there are bad decisions made by the refs during the dying seconds of the game both towards the Bulls and the Cavs.

  37. Bill says:

    I love how the fact that the cavs coach pulled a chris webber is being ignored as well……..so many thing the nba has to look at in my opionion

  38. Bully says:

    Why wasn’t the elbow thrown by LJ at Mike Dunleavey’s head at the end of the game ever reviewed for a flagrant foul? Dunleavey may have flopped but in real time it’s hard to tell. That call plus the official ignoring the TO called by the Cavs coach when they didn’t have any were dubious.

  39. fbsdbdf says:

    shows just how much the refs want the cavs to win

  40. Bulls Rule says:

    personally I think this game was unfair and the referees should face some sort of penalty for this… The fact is, is that they allowed someone else to call the game thus giving the cav’s the opportunity to set up a play when this game was obviously going into overtime.. And they cost the bulls the chance at a fair game.. Didn’t like it and honestly hope that those same referees aren’t overlooking their next game..

  41. john says:

    Blatt , we love you !!!

  42. Bill says:

    I don’t understand why they allow the players to go to the bench during a review to set up a play. The Bulls played awesome defense and made the Cavs blow 3 timeouts. They had none left, but “earned” one during a reviewed play? That’s ridiculous. They would have had to come up with a play on the fly in real play and Lebron wouldn’t have gotten that shot.

    • Ham says:

      I guess the Bulls didn’t go back to a huddle and have a chat about the final play either. Both teams were able to go off and have a chat… also what about the Bulls coach being on the court to where the inbound play was set to go? How’s that fair?

  43. LBJ says:

    96-94 victory?