The NBA today granted a game protest filed by the Miami Heat after its 117-111 loss to the Atlanta Hawks on December 19 at Philips Arena, which will result in the replay of the final 51.9 seconds of the game’s overtime period with the Hawks leading 114-111. The replay will occur immediately prior to the next scheduled game between the two teams â€” on March 8, 2008, also at Philips Arena.
The Heat protested the game because, with 51.9 seconds remaining in overtime, the Hawks’ scoring table personnel incorrectly disqualified the Heat’s Shaquille O’Neal â€“ asserting that a foul committed by O’Neal was his sixth foul of the game, when in fact it was only his fifth.Â The error occurred because the Hawks’ Official Scorer mistakenly attributed to O’Neal a foul at 3:24 remaining in the fourth period that was actually called against the Heat’s Udonis Haslem.
NBA Commissioner David Stern found that the Hawks were grossly negligent in committing this scoring error, since they failed to follow league-mandated scoring procedures and failed to respond effectively when the members of the statisticians’ crew noticed the mistake.Â Because of this conduct by Atlanta’s personnel, Miami suffered a clear competitive disadvantage, as O’Neal â€“ the Heat’s second leading scorer and rebounder that night â€“ was removed from a one-point game with only 51.9 seconds remaining.Â Under this unprecedented set of circumstances, the Commissioner granted the Heat’s protest, and fined the Hawks $50,000 for their violation of league rules.
The protest is the first granted by the NBA since December 14, 1982 when then-NBA Commissioner Larry O’Brien upheld a protest by the San Antonio Spurs concerning their 137-132 double overtime loss to the Los Angeles Lakers on Nov. 30.Â The Spurs and Lakers finished the game on April 13 with San Antonio collecting a 117-114 win.