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Referee Kennedy caught on hot mic telling coaches he's 'stalling' for TV

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By Ben Golliver

Referee Billy Kennedy was caught on a hot mic telling Spurs coach Gregg Popovich and Lakers coach Mike D'Antoni that he was "stalling" the game so that the television broadcast could air more commercials.

The unusual sequence took place with 5:09 remaining in the fourth quarter with the Spurs leading 103-91 at the AT&T Center.

"You called a full and then you wanted a 20," Kennedy explained to D'Antoni. "You didn't have one. You called one in the third quarter. TV went to a 20, thought it was going to be a 20. So what I'm doing right now is I'm stalling, I'm stalling for commercial time. That's why I'm doing this right now. I need your help. ... I can't let your teams go to the huddle, you know what I'm saying?"

The broadcast then cut to a commercial break.

The confusion apparently resulted from D'Antoni asking for his second 20-second timeout of the second half early in the fourth quarter.  By NBA rules, each team is only allowed one 20-second timeout per half, though, and the Lakers had already used their 20-second timeout in the third quarter. As such, the Lakers were assessed a full timeout, but the television broadcast didn't air the number of commercials befitting the longer break. Kennedy's plan, then, was to stage the meeting with the coaches so that the broadcast could make up the extra ad time. Because the "stalling" wasn't an official stoppage of play, Kennedy needed to make sure both D'Antoni and Popovich left their teams on the court and didn't use the dead time strategizing in a sideline huddle.

The Spurs went on to win 108-105. Tony Parker finished with 24 points, six assists, three rebounds and three steals. Manu Ginobili added 19 points, eight rebounds and four assists. Kobe Bryant finished with a game-high 27 points, five assists and four rebounds in a losing effort. The Spurs improved to 28-10; the Lakers dropped to 15-20.

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