The NBA has denied a protest lodged by the Kings, who sought to overturn their last-second loss to the Grizzlies on Nov. 13. The league's ruling reaffirms Memphis's 111-110 victory and keeps both teams' records as is: Memphis remains 13-2 and Sacramento stays at 9-6.
Sacramento launched its protest, an unusual move, because Memphis secured its victory on a contested buzzer-beater by Courtney Lee. During the play, which began with 0.3 seconds remaining, Vince Carter completed an alley-oop lob pass to Lee, who double-clutched before finishing his layup. Sacramento was convinced that Memphis's clock operator did not start the clock at the right time, giving Lee additional time to complete his shot attempt.
Additionally, there was some question as to whether the inbounds pass was tipped by Ryan Hollins, who had been guarding Carter on the inbounds pass. A tip or deflection by Hollins would have started the clock and ended the game prior to Lee's shot attempt.
NBA commissioner Adam Silver said in a statement that the Kings were "required to establish a misapplication of the official playing rules that had a clear impact on the game's outcome" if the protest was to be upheld. Upon the league office's review, Silver determined that the officials' decision to score Lee's basket was "timely within their judgment and not a misapplication of the playing rules." He decided to deny the protest, avoiding what he called "the extraordinary remedy of overturning the game's result."
The game officials initially ruled that Lee's basket was good and they upheld that call upon an extensive video review, which was aided by the NBA's new off-site instant replay command center.
Sacramento made its intention to protest known shortly after the game. Kings GM Pete D'Alessandro went so far as to post a photo of his face to Twitter, showing that he had popped a blood vessel in his eye after the disputed finish. USA Today Sports reported that the protest cost the Kings $10,000.
Despite the kerfuffle, Grizzlies GM Chris Wallace told Yahoo Sports earlier this month that he was "confident" that the game's result would stand.
The last time an NBA granted a game protest was in 2008, when the league determined that the final 51.9 seconds of a Dec. 19, 2007, game between the Heat and Hawks needed to be re-played. During that game, the Hawks scorekeeper ruled that Shaquille O'Neal had been disqualified for accumulating six personal fouls, even though he had only committed five. Atlanta won both the original game and the replayed game, but was subject to a $50,000 fine for being "grossy negligent" in its scorekeeping. Prior to that, the NBA had not granted a protest since 1982.