The Charlotte Hornets now hold a 3-2 series lead against the Miami Heat in their first round playoff series after a tight 90-88 victory Wednesday night. Though the Heat had several chances to tie the game or take the lead late in the game, the most controversial play came at the very end when Dwyane Wade appeared to be fouled in the air by Hornets center Cody Zeller. Or so he though, as there was no call and time soon ran out on Miami.
Wade and Heat Nation were outraged by the non-call but after further review a day later, the NBA believes that referee Kane Fitzgerald made the correct decision.
Zeller (CHA) comes towards Wade (MIA) from across the restricted area, planting his foot and jumping vertically to defend Wade's shot. Zeller absorbs contact when it occurs and, while his arms are not completely vertical, multiple angles confirm they do not make contact with Wade. Therefore, Zeller maintains a legal guarding position as he attempts to defend the shot.
I guess they didn't notice how Zeller's body shifts from the area under the rim and into the direction of Wade's body in mid-air. If there's any doubt about this, check out the angle from the camera on the other end of the court. After pushing away Hassan Whiteside the other direction and then shifting his weight, his body is clearly on the other side of the rim when he is about to jump -- which would place him under the rim if he indeed jumped vertically.
Click here for the video that the NBA provided, with the last angle clearly showing how Zeller gears up to jump forward and not straight up. You can also view the PDF of the NBA Officiating Last Two Minute Report, which also includes link to videos of the plays in question.