It would seem as though the Detroit Pistons ended their game against the Bobcats with a dramatic 103-100 win in overtime on Saturday night. Not so, says Charlotte coach Sam Vincent - and furthermore, it's not over.
Vincent says the Bobcats will probably be in touch with the league over a disputed interference call against Emeka Okafor that eliminated a go-ahead basket for Charlotte with 1.5 seconds left.
"I'm sure we're going to contact the league. We'd like to do what Miami did and play the last minute over again, also," Vincent said, referring to the NBA's recent decision to replay the last minute of Miami's Dec. 19 loss to Atlanta because of a scorekeeping error. "I believe it would be justified."
After watching several replays of the call against Emeka Okafor, Vincent still believed the play was legal. The coach was convinced the ball was short of the rim and not in the cylinder above the basket.
"It's very disappointing for me to have our guys be so underhanded and fight so hard to win a game and have it taken away by a whistle," he said.
The Bobcats will likely have to remember another heartbreaking defeat despite a spirited effort.
With only eight players available - none a point guard - the Charlotte Bobcats nearly pulled off their second stunner of the week against the elite Pistons.
Detroit avoided a third loss in four games thanks to the key call and Richard Hamilton's late heroics. He hit the go-ahead jumper with 16.2 seconds left. After the call that eliminated Nazr Mohammed's tip-in, Hamilton hit two free throws with 0.2 seconds left.
"It was tough," said Hamilton, who scored 26 points and acknowledged they let down against an undermanned team. "That's why it's better for them to have everybody."
Chauncey Billups scored 27 points and Tayshaun Prince added 22 for the Pistons, who narrowly avoided joining Boston as Charlotte's second upset victim in four days.
One night after losing in double-overtime to Cleveland, the Bobcats were without Raymond Felton (ankle) and Jeff McInnis (thigh) and the emergency point guard, Derek Anderson (knee).
Predictably, the Bobcats fell behind 31-17 in the first quarter, only to stage a remarkable comeback with a patchwork lineup and a zone defence that frustrated the Pistons.
Elsewhere in the NBA, it was: Wizards 85 Celtics 78, Spurs 105 Timberwolves 88, Jazz 119 Magic 115, Suns 122 Bucks 114, Pacers 111 Kings 105 and Mavericks 95 Clippers 94.
At Charlotte, N.C., Gerald Wallace scored 26 points, Jason Richardson added 20 and Okafor had 19 points and 15 rebounds for the Bobcats, who stunned the Celtics on Wednesday.
Charlotte took the lead late in the third quarter, and built an 89-84 advantage on Wallace's driving layup with 3:23 left.
The Pistons rallied, tying the game on Billups' off-balance three-pointer with 1:17 left. Charlotte and Detroit then each came up empty on two trips to force overtime.
The lead changed hands six times in overtime, and Charlotte initially thought it had taken the lead when former Piston Mohammed, who had 19 points and 13 rebounds, tipped in Richardson's miss.
But referee Marc Davis called basket interference on Okafor, who deflected Richardson's short shot before it ended in Mohammed's hands.
Okafor believed the shot wasn't going to hit the rim.
"If I thought it was going to hit the rim I would have let it go," Okafor said.
Having no point guard left some odd sights. Wallace sometimes brought the ball up the floor, three-point specialist Matt Carroll ran plays and even rookie forward Jared Dudley once flailed his arms to direct traffic at the top of the key.
Yet, it worked against the Pistons, who appeared flat after a three-game stretch against powers Boston, Dallas and San Antonio. The Pistons, lacking energy after their quick start, settling for jumpers against Charlotte's zone. The Pistons were 7 of 29 from three-point range.
Coach Flip Saunders, who said he never remembered one of his teams taking so many threes, was especially upset at Hamilton's 2 of 9 shooting from 3.
"I thought he was at the state fair or something trying to win a stuffed animal," Saunders said.
Saunders tried to get the Pistons out of their funk by going to different lineups, including stretches for former Bobcats Walter Herrmann and Primoz Brezec, acquired for Mohammed in a deal between the teams last month.
In the first matchup since the trade, Brezec had a three-point play early in the fourth quarter to put Detroit ahead 78-73, before Charlotte rallied again.
"We didn't have a point guard, some guys played 50 minutes last night," Wallace said. "We came out fighting and it says a lot about our team."
Wizards 85 Celtics 78
At Washington, the Wizards rallied from a seven-point, fourth-quarter deficit and closed the game with a 15-4 run for a victory over the Celtics.
Spurs 105 Timberwolves 88
At San Antonio, Manu Ginobili scored 22 points and Tony Parker had 21 Saturday night to lead the San Antonio Spurs to a victory over the Minnesota Timberwolves.
Jazz 119 Magic 115
At Salt Lake City, Deron Williams had 17 points and 11 assists as the Utah Jazz gave Orlando consecutive road losses for the first time this season.
Suns 122 Bucks 114
At Phoenix, Steve Nash of Victoria scored 26 of his season-high 35 points in the second half and the Suns beat the Milwaukee Bucks in Arizona for the 20th consecutive time.
Pacers 111 Kings 105
At Sacramento, Calif., Mike Dunleavy scored 23 points and the Indiana Pacers never trailed in a victory over the Kings, snapping a three-game losing streak.
Mavericks 95 Clippers 94
At Los Angeles, Jerry Stackhouse hit a three-pointer as time expired, and the Dallas Mavericks got 22 points from Dirk Nowitzki and 20 from Jason Terry in a victory over the Clippers.