DALLAS — Mavericks star Luka Doncic pulled a three-pointer back from the left wing to beat the half-time bell, did a slightly skimpy dance on the sideline and briskly ran into the locker room with his team holding a seven-point lead. Denver Nuggets.
Doncic and the Mavericks discovered minutes later that when reviewing the replay, the umpires ruled that he had gone out of bounds and taken the points off the scoreboard. They also learned that the final two seconds of the second quarter would be brought back after halftime before the start of the third quarter.
Nuggets reserve striker Vlatko Cankar and Doncic’s team mate on the Slovenian national team made those two seconds count, only firing home from behind the half-court line. That six-point Slovenian swing ended up making all the difference in the Nuggets’ 98-97 victory Sunday night, as the Mavs managed to lose at home to a heavily depleted Denver team missing two-time MVP Nikola Jokic and key players Jamal Murray’s Aaron Gordon due to illness.
“It’s a great momentum [shift]Doncic, who finished with 22 points, nine rebounds and eight assists but did not score in the fourth quarter, said Doncic, who lost 35 feet in the closing seconds.
Doncic was in disbelief that the 3 at the end of the first half had been erased from the board, unaware that going out of bounds was revisionable in this situation.
As referee Shaun Wright explained in the postgame pool report, a field goal made with no time left on the clock is automatically reviewed at the end of any period, citing Rule 13 Section 1a(1).
“Within that trigger we have a reviewable issue, which is Section II-A(2)—whether the shooter committed a boundary line violation or the ball touched out of bounds before entering the basket,” Wright said. “The video showed his heel on the line when he was shot.”
Doncic questioned whether his heel had already touched the sidelined goalkeeper. He studied the video on his phone while he was sitting in front of his locker before showering and didn’t think there was hard evidence that he had gone out of bounds.
“I didn’t think I was out of bounds, so I don’t know,” said Doncic. “I watched some videos and it didn’t look like I touched the line, and my heel was on top, so I don’t know.”
The referees chose to replay the last two seconds of the second quarter after halftime because the teams had already left the floor and the halftime verb “Simon Says” was making its way onto the court.
“Instead of trying to pull everyone back, we started with the two seconds when we come back and then play right after that,” Wright said.
Kankar didn’t realize the final two seconds would be given back until the Nuggets huddled in front of the bench after halftime. Coach Michael Malone replaced Kankar in the game for those two seconds.
“He said, ‘Flatko, I’m putting you in it,'” Flatko told ESPN. “I want you to hit a half-court shot.” “As soon as he said that, my eyes turned green. I was waiting to shoot him.”
Kankar picked up the inside pass and unleashed the shot from the right side of the field two feet behind the half-court line. It was officially recorded as 53 feet, reducing Dallas’ lead to one point.
“[Spencer] “Dinwiddie and Luca were kind of trying to guard, but I guess they didn’t think I was going to shoot him,” said Kankar, who scored seven points shooting 3-of-3 in 11 minutes. It’s in the NBA. They always want to shoot behind the bell because they don’t want to spoil their lineage, but I don’t care.”
While Cankar celebrated, raising his fists in triumph before leaping into the arms of Denver center DeAndre Jordan, Doncic had a few choice words for the officials as he walked to the Mavericks’ bench.
Kankar often practices half-court shots, which is why Malone chose him to take a try. Cankar admitted that he lost “a lot of money” betting against Doncic in the half-court shooting competitions after the Slovenian team’s practice.
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