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Let Chaos Reign

You won't see a wilder NBA play all season than this Denver Nuggets bonus-time half-court buzzer beater

November 21, 2022

Instant replay is a funny thing. It was instituted largely to mitigate chaos—to take human error out of the equation—and most of the time it does exactly that. Sometimes, however, when you put things under a microscope and examine every strand of DNA in 8K slow motion, you open up a veritable can of worms.

That’s what happened on Sunday night, as Luka Doncic hit an apparent halftime buzzer beater to put the Mavericks up seven on the Denver Nuggets heading into the interval. Despite the fact the buzzer didn’t sound until the ball was long out of Doncic’s hands, by rule all shots made with no time remaining on the clock are automatically reviewed. Players headed to the locker room, but when NBA replay officials looked back at the seemingly obvious play, they noticed Doncic’s heel had stepped on the out-of-bounds line with two seconds remaining in the half. They called players back out to the court for one last play of the second quarter immediately preceding the third quarter. The Nuggets took the in-bounds from their own half and promptly did this:

Vlatko Cancar drained the half-court shot, leading to a six-point swing on the basis of a few millimeters of Doncic’s Jordans, which no one noticed in real time at real speed. Making matters even more ridiculous, the Nuggets would go on to win by a solitary point, making this phantom two-second second quarter not just a novelty item, but one of the most pivotal plays in the entire game. Go figure.

The NBA season is young. You’ll see plenty of absurd highlights and lowlights between now and June—dunks, blocks, techs, tres, and whatever the hell Ben Simmons does next—but we promise you won’t see anything quite like this.