ATLANTA - The Atlanta Hawks and Miami Heat must replay the final 51.9 seconds of their game last month because the NBA said the official scorer ruled incorrectly that Shaquille O'Neal fouled out. This will be the first time since 1982 the league has sent teams back on the court for a replay.
The Hawks won 117-111 at home in overtime Dec. 19. The NBA said Friday the replay will be held before the teams' next scheduled game - March 8 in Atlanta. Play will start from the time after O'Neal's disputed sixth foul.
The Hawks also were fined $50,000, with commissioner David Stern ruling the team was 'grossly negligent' in failing to address the mistake.
The protest is the first granted by the NBA since December 1982, when then-NBA commissioner Larry O'Brien upheld a request for a replay by the San Antonio Spurs after their 137-132 double-overtime loss to the Los Angeles Lakers the previous month.
The Spurs and Lakers finished the game in April 1983, with San Antonio winning 117-114.
The Hawks were leading 112-111 in overtime when O'Neal was called for a foul. The scoring table personnel, who are provided by the home team, ruled it was the Miami center's sixth foul, when actually it was only his fifth.
According to the league, the mistake stemmed from a foul with 3:24 remaining in the fourth quarter that was called on Udonis Haslem but was mistakenly credited to O'Neal at the scoring table.
Stern ruled the Hawks 'failed to follow league-mandated scoring procedures and failed to respond effectively when the members of the statisticians' crew noticed the mistake,' the NBA said in a statement.
The NBA requires the official scorer to coordinate foul calls with the stat crew during every timeout. That apparently didn't happen in this case, resulting in the mistake going unnoticed until after the game, when the Hawks put out revised boxes showing O'Neal with six fouls.
This isn't the first statistical problem to occur in Atlanta. On Nov. 24, 2006, the official scorer failed to credit Toronto's T.J. Ford with a basket that would have given the Raptors a late tie and an opportunity to change the outcome of a 97-93 loss.
'Because of this conduct by Atlanta's personnel, Miami suffered a clear competitive disadvantage, as O'Neal - the Heat's second-leading scorer and rebounder that night - was removed from a one-point game with only 51.9 seconds remaining,' the NBA statement said.
Al Horford hit two free throws after O'Neal's foul to give the Hawks a 114-111 lead. Anthony Johnson added a running jumper with 14 seconds left to put the game away.
Now, they'll have to do it over again.