Friday night's game between the Sacramento Kings and Memphis Grizzlies ended on a sour note for coach Michael Malone as a questionable call late in the fourth quarter forced a jump ball situation, resulting in a lost possession for the Kings and a Memphis victory, 91-90.
The Kings were poised for a potential game-changing play with five seconds left when trail official Marc Davis called a jump ball between Rudy Gay and Tayshaun Prince on this play:
Rudy Gay was pivoting in the center of the lane as Tayshaun Prince, Courtney Lee and Mike Conley all tried to stop the Kings forward from scoring. Slow motion of the play shows Conley making a grab for the ball as Prince steps into Gay with his left knee, helping to dislodge the ball with his body:
Gay then recovered the ball and Prince blocked the subsequent shot. The ball fell behind the play on the block and Davis didn't call a jump ball until Lee got the ball around midcourt.
According to the NBA rulebook, the rule for a held ball is:
A held ball occurs when two opponents have one or both hands firmly on the ball or anytime a defensive player touches the ball causing the offensive player to return to the floor with the ball in his continuous possession. A held ball should not be called until both players have hands so firmly on the ball that neither can gain sole possession without undue roughness
While Gay returned to the floor with the ball, no Grizzlies player ever had a hand "firmly on the ball" so it's a bit hard to understand what Davis saw.
It was one of the stranger ways a game has ended this season, and probably should have resulted in either a travel, a no-call or a foul on Conley or Prince. Malone wasn't happy about the situation, calling Davis "a coward" at the end of regulation.
"I thought it was an awful call," said Malone.
Michael Malone calls referee Marc Davis "a coward" at the end of regulation.