Did Refs Giftwrap Miami Heat's Tight Win over the Thunder?

Jesse DorseyFeatured ColumnistDecember 25, 2012

The Miami Heat won their first game against the Oklahoma City Thunder since beating them in the NBA Finals. Miami's 103-97 win was not so much a statement as it was a reassurance that they're still the team to beat in the NBA.

However, since the game ended, the Twitter world has been aghast, shrieking that Russell Westbrook was fouled on Oklahoma City's final three-pointer that would have tied the game at 100.

Of course, the fact that there was a 38-16 free-throw differential in favor of the Heat doesn't detract from the case put forth by the conspiracy theorists:


Missed call on Westbrook, but that's how calls get missed. If the foul's away from the release, the ref doesn't see it

— Ethan Strauss (@SherwoodStrauss) December 26, 2012




WHAT a missed call on the Westbrook 3, official was watching the ball rather than staying with the shot.

— Beckley Mason (@BeckleyMason) December 26, 2012


I'll admit, in real time, it definitely looked like a foul. Upon a second, third and 18th look, though, there's a totally different story being told.

The first thing we have to realize is that this is a very delicate situation for a referee. The only way a foul is called in this situation is if it's incredibly evident.

From the only angle we were given, it's definitely a hard call to make, but in the end it seems as if the referees made the right call.

There are two problems with the sequence of events that led to the Thunder losing.

First, the contact came after the shot was off. That's still a foul, but there's a lot more leeway that can be given on those calls, depending on the severity of the harm done.

Second, as Dwyane Wade was streaking out to contest the shot, Westbrook threw his legs out, basically screaming, "I'm trying to get the call!"

As soon as a referee sees that, the call isn't getting made.

If he would have went straight up, then maybe he makes the shot, or maybe there's enough arm contact to get the call.

Going up and splitting your legs like that, however, isn't going to get a call when it's that dramatic. Perhaps if it's a subtle leg kick like Jason Kidd did against the Brooklyn Nets, then the call gets made.