Imagine this: Kevin Durant is out of bounds by an enormous margin, all three referees somehow miss the obvious infraction and Golden State winds up getting a basket that it didn't deserve to take the lead with a few seconds remaining.
It seemed implausible.
That is, until it happened.
When such a scene played out last week in the Houston-Golden State overtime thriller, James Harden kept a ton of egg from landing on the NBA's face when he connected on a 3-pointer to give the Rockets a win in a game they would have screamed bloody murder about otherwise. But what if he missed? Or worse, if a call that big got missed in Game 7 of the NBA Finals?
"How do you miss that?" TNT analyst Reggie Miller mused while watching the Durant replay.
An obvious question, with an obvious answer: It's time for a change.
Everyone in the NBA replay center in Secaucus, New Jersey that night surely saw Durant standing out of bounds. But there is no mechanism for the replay crews to trigger a review of such a play — since, under NBA rules as they're written now, they can only get involved if a call is made on the floor.
The league doesn't want a system where every call is challenged or reviewed because games would take forever. There are bang-bang plays in every game, and someone will always be mad when a block-charge call doesn't go their way. But the NBA has been thinking about changes, such as adding a coaches' challenge option that they've tinkered with in the G League and at summer league.
For now, here's a solution:
Give the referees sitting in Secaucus that night the option of triggering a review late in games based on what they see. It would just make sense, because the NBA insists the top priority in these situations is getting calls right. True, a call made in the first 2 minutes might have just as much effect on an outcome as one in the last 2 minutes, but people just seem more fixated upon the stuff at the end.
"We're dealing with human beings," NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said last year. "And people lose their cool under pressure at times."
Cameras aren't affected by pressure. So use them.
To say that Washington's Bradley Beal had high hopes entering this season is an understatement.
"If you look at us on paper, we look absolutely amazing," Beal said back at media day.
They look much different now. But they're still fighting.
John Wall's season is over. Dwight Howard's season hasn't really gotten started. Markieff Morris' season won't resume for a few more weeks, at least. The Wizards are 11th in the Eastern Conference, yet insist their resolve is still intact — as was evident in their win over Oklahoma City on Sunday night.
"We're banged up and I haven't heard one player, nor coach, feel sorry for ourselves that we've got guys missing," Wizards coach Scott Brooks said. "It's just what we have to do. Sure, we would love to have everybody here all season long, but that hasn't been the case and now we know guys are going to be out for the rest of the season and we've just got to tie the laces up and compete for one another."
The Wizards started 2-9, then went 9-5 in their next 14 games and looked as though they were righting the ship.
It's been one bad break after another since, but they're still fighting to get back into the playoff hunt.
"That's what we have to do," Beal said. "We have to step in for John, for Keif, for Dwight — those are key guys and we need everybody to be able to step up and fill in those roles in whatever way possible. Whatever it looks like, as long as we get a win. That's something we continue to preach every day."
For the first time in five years, Golden State will not have the best record in the NBA at the midway mark — after 41 games.
This year, that distinction will go to Milwaukee, Toronto or Denver.
Few would have picked that to be the case three months ago.
The Bucks, at 27-11 with three games left in the first half of their schedule, are in position for their best 41-game start since opening 30-11 during the 1980-81 season.
Toronto matched a franchise best by opening 29-12 — tying what it did last year, even while dealing with the coaching change from Dwane Casey to Nick Nurse, the addition of Kawhi Leonard and Danny Green, the departure of DeMar DeRozan and injuries to Jonas Valanciunias and Kyle Lowry.
The Nuggets, 26-11 so far, might end up with their best 41-game start ever. They were 29-12 in 1976-77.
Golden State's Stephen Curry loves the 3, and San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich has said he hates the 3.
Fitting, then, that they're both approaching No. 3 on some NBA all-time lists this week.
Popovich enters the week with 1,220 regular-season wins, one shy of matching Jerry Sloan for third-most in NBA history. When Popovich passes Sloan, only Don Nelson (1,335) and Lenny Wilkens (1,332) will be ahead of him on the list.
Curry made 10 3-pointers on Saturday night, moving him past Utah's Kyle Korver for fourth on the NBA career list from beyond the arc; Curry has 2,277, while Korver has 2,274 entering Monday. Both are about to pass Jason Terry, whose 2,282 career 3-pointers rank No. 3 in NBA history — for a few more days.
Ray Allen leads the all-time list with 2,973, and Reggie Miller is second with 2,560. At his current pace, Curry will catch Miller in about a year and Allen in about two years.
Minnesota fired Tom Thibodeau on Sunday and replaced him with Ryan Saunders, the son of former Minnesota coach Flip Saunders.
Ryan Saunders is 32. There are 43 players older than him who have logged NBA minutes this season, including three members of the Timberwolves: Luol Deng, Anthony Tolliver and Taj Gibson.
THE WEEK AHEAD
A game to watch every day this week:
— Denver at Houston, Monday: MVP James Harden is playing out of his mind right now, and the Nuggets have a chance at a statement win.
— New York at Golden State, Tuesday: The Knicks led the Warriors by 10 late in the third quarter in October, and got outscored 57-19 from there.
— Indiana at Boston, Wednesday: Fourth game on a five-game trip for the Pacers, and the Celtics enter the week 14-6 in their last 20 games.
— Oklahoma City at San Antonio, Thursday: The start of a home-and-home that concludes Saturday for these clubs hitting their stride.
— L.A. Lakers at Utah, Friday: Could this be the game when LeBron James returns from the groin injury? The Lakers are leaking oil without him.
— Memphis at Miami, Saturday: This will be Dwyane Wade's final time facing the Grizzlies, who have gone 3-10 in Miami against his Heat.
— Milwaukee at Atlanta, Sunday: Former Hawks coach Mike Budenholzer returns to Atlanta, days after his Bucks rolled the Hawks 144-112.