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Giannis Antetokounmpo game-winning dunk was made possible by a terrible officiating error

Giannis Antetokounmpo dunks the winning field goal over Russell Westbrook. (AP Photo/J Pat Carter)

Giannis Antetokounmpo’s impossibly long limbs and arms have allowed him to defy the laws of physics, but on Friday night, he challenged the dimensions of an NBA court by going beyond 94 feet, stepping out of bounds while driving baseline and added insult to injury by posterizing Russell Westbrook for the game-winning dunk. His basket gave the Milwaukee Bucks a 97-95 lead over the Oklahoma City Thunder with just 1.3 ticks remaining.

The illegal basket ended an impressive night by Westbrook, who scored 40 points, on an inauspicious note. The Thunder trailed by 20 points in the second quarter, but Westbrook led the rally and drilled a 3-pointer to knot it up at 95 in the final 4.7 seconds.

Officials have a difficult job, but that is a mighty big foot in white sneakers on a black sideline for an official to miss. Officials Derek Stafford, Ben Taylor and Leon Wood refused to review the play because they were not allowed to according to limitations on NBA instant replay reviews.

Referees can only initiate a review on a called out-of-bounds play (for example, not one where an out-of-bounds might have occurred) and only those involving doubt as to which player caused the ball to go out (not those, for example, where a player stepped on the line).

In addition to determining which player caused the ball to go out-of-bounds, referees also look to confirm whether:

The game clock expired before the ball went out-of-bounds or the amount of time to put on the clock,


Wood was the official with the best vantage point right behind Antetokounmpo on the baseline, but it was Stafford who issued an explanation afterwards.

That’s a rule which needs to be revisited as soon as possible. There’s no reason a violation that blatant should go ignored because of a technicality in the final seconds. Paul George, who sat out the night to rest a sore left knee was just as perplexed as the rest of the viewing audience about the play that snapped Oklahoma City’s seven-game winning streak.

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DJ Dunson is a writer for Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at dunsnchecksin@yahoo.com or find him on Twitter or Facebook.