Real quick post on the Knicks-Mavs game on Sunday.  The Knicks, as you might know by now, blew a seven point lead with a couple of minutes to go in this game, then lost it in overtime.  The Knicks came out with guns blaring, dropping 35 points in the first quarter, and hitting everything in sight (Randolph was something like 7 for 7 to start the game). 

And just how nice was this play, early in the second quarter?:


Anyway, let's just call this game on of those games - there are about 2 to 4 of them a season.  If you've watched the NBA enough over the past 10 years, you'll know what I'm talking about.  It's the Violet Palmer game. 

Here's what ESPN's Bill Simmons once wrote about Violet Palmer:

Violet Palmer – Here's what I wrote about her four months ago: "During last week's Celtics game, the legendary Violet Palmer was involved, who deserves her own 'SportsCentury' at some point. Nobody has ever been worse at their job, in any vocation – not even the people who work at Home Depot selling Christmas trees. When Violet started officiating a few years ago, she was so incompetent, players and coaches actually avoided arguing with her – whenever she screwed up, they would always glance around helplessly, the same way you would if your puppy dropped a deuce on the living room carpet. But now she's been around for a few years and people are fed up. On Monday night, Doc Rivers was one bad Violet call away from ending up in a white Bronco with Al Cowlings. I love this stuff."

D'Antoni tried sweet talking Violet Palmer early in the first half... the MSG network had the mics on, and it was one of their spotlight conversations. 

But here is how you know it was a Violet Palmer game:  when none of the calls (and non-calls) seemed to make sense, or have any rhyme or reason to them.  When the other two refs in the crew are unable to make proper calls, either, because they are either too busy double-checking Violet, or staying out of it because they don't know what she is going to call.

I was going to go through the footage of the game and highlight some of the spottier calls, but honestly... I don't feel like watching that game a second time.  Here are some of the calls I took notes on during the game:

-Quentin Richardson late in the fourth, failed to draw a charge despite clearly having his feet planted and being outside the restricted zone.  It's generally an easy call.  Instead Q-Rich was hit with a blocking foul.

-The odd play in which Nate Robinson went up to tip in a shot by Wilson Chandler.  The ball was still over the cylinder, so Nate did not touch the ball, but he did hit the rim.  At first Violet whistled him, correctly, for offensive interference and negated the basket.  Then she changed her mind when the Knicks argued that Nate did not touch the ball (which it appeared he did not).  

That she changed her mind seems pretty odd.  Nate touching the rim alone was sufficient to let the offensive interference call stand.  Even if most refs wouldn't call it (unless the rim touch effect it enough to have caused the bouncing basketball to go in), it was still the correct call initially.  So why change it?  Did she really think Nate might have touched the ball at first, until the other refs told her that was not the case?  If that's what happened, then she must not visually be able to tell that a Nate's hand hitting the front of the rim was nowhere near the ball, which was on the back iron of the rim?!?

If you didn't see the play, then my description probably isn't helping.  Let's just say it was a weird call, and a weirder reversal, and leave it at that.

-There was a lot of contact on Quentin Richardson's attempt to take the lead with about seven seconds to go in the game.  Check it out for yourselves, at the 1:35 mark of this recap:


 Now the general "rule" on most end of game shots is a) there has to be sufficient contact (no touch fouls will be called, unless you are a superstar).  But one could argue both that Q-Rich was suffiicently contacted, and that there was more than enough time on the clock for the Mavs to call timeout, and set up a decent shot of their own to tie/win the game (provided Q-Rich hit his free throws).  I would wager that maybe 60-70% of the refs in the league would have called that foul.  I could be wrong.

The larger point: the whole second half was bizarrely officiated.  As is generally the case when Violet Palmer is an official, the calls don't really make sense.  And no, they weren't necessarily anti-Knicks, or pro-Mavs.  That's not really the point of my post.  The Knicks probably benefit has much from the weird calls as they suffered.  It's just that it becomes really hard to figure out what is going on.

The Knicks attempted 10 free throws in the 2nd quarter.  They attempted 3 in the 3rd quarter, and NONE in the fourth. 

In the second quarter (during which Violet Palmer was stationed under the Dallas Mav's basket, not the Knicks) the Knicks weren't even driving that much.  Most of their shots were from the outside. Only one shot - a miss - was from inside the paint, and that was a failed attempt to tip the ball in.

In the fourth quarter (Violet Palmer's basket is now the one the Knicks are attempting to score on), the Knicks missed four shots in the paint area, and in general took more shots inside.  See for yourself.

Despite playing more aggressively in the fourth than in the second, the Knicks did not draw any free throws.  This is a hallmark of a Violet Palmer game.  The tendency in those games, from what I've noticed, is that teams tend to get more calls on outside shots than in inside shots (which is counterintuitive, since inside shots generally tend to lead to more contact than outside shots). 

In summary:  Whether you win or lose a Violet Palmer officiated game, the best thing to do is disregard any deep meaning, and just treat it like an exhibition game or something.  You do what you can to win the game, but you also have to accept that whatever it is that you did to win (or lose) the game might not work the same way if this game had been managed by "real" officials.

File under: whining about one particular ref; things that make me grudgingly agree with Bill Simmons; who watches the watchmen?  

Leave a comment

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