When a buzzer-beating basket by Robert Traylor swished through the net last week, referee Bob Delaney walked over to the scorer's table and motioned for the other two officials to join him.
"Let's take another look at it," he said.
Up until now, he never had that option.
The NBA has added instant replay reviews to its rule book, permitting officials to take a second - or third, or fourth look - at plays in the final few seconds of any period.
The move was spurred by a flurry of incorrect calls at the end of games in last season's playoffs, embarrassing blunders that forced the league into doing something about the problem.
"We're so dedicated to our profession that nobody feels worse than we do when we're wrong," said Delaney, who made the incorrect call on a pair of baskets in last season's playoffs - one by Kobe Bryant, another by Reggie Miller - that should have been waved off because time had expired.
Under the new rules, officials can look at instant replay only at the end of each quarter to determine if a shot left a player's hand before the clock hit 0.0 seconds. To help the officials tell when the clock hit all zeros, a frame of red lights will be installed around the perimeter of each backboard, and an additional red light will be added to the shot clock above each backboard.
Previously, there was only one small red light behind each rim that illuminated when the clock hit all zeros, but it was not visible from all camera angles.
The officials will be allowed to look for several things:
-Whether the shot left a player's hand in time.
-Whether a last-second foul was called before the clock hit all zeros.
-Whether a player's foot was on the 3-point line, the baseline or the sideline when the shot was released.
-Whether a 24-second shot-clock violation or an 8-second backcourt violation occurred before the shot was released.
Calls will be reversed only when there is conclusive evidence for the officials to do so. If a last-second shot in the fourth quarter has no bearing on who wins, it will not be reviewed.
In the case of Traylor's shot last Tuesday night in an exhibition game between New Orleans and Atlanta, it was clear to everyone watching that the shot was released in time. But while rookie referee Ed Malloy called it a 2-pointer, another referee raised both arms to signal a 3-pointer - a call that was quickly relayed to the crowd by the public address announcer.
Delaney walked over to a specially installed replay monitor at midcourt and put on a headset to speak with a television producer who had access to all available replay angles.
After further review, the shot counted as a 2.
The NBA has instituted a two-minute limit for referees to review plays, an effort to avoid the types of lengthy stoppages that have plagued the NFL's replay system.
NBA referees will not put their heads in a hood as football officials do when going to the videotape, but they will be able to swing the monitor so it faces the court - allowing them to avoid getting any interference from fans sitting directly behind the scorer's table.
All three referees will review a play together, but the crew chief will have final say.
"We're still going to referee the way we refereed, we're just going to use the technology to make the correct call," veteran official Jess Kersey said.
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