The Phoenix Suns are not having the best of seasons, to say the least. But last night's victory over the Memphis Grizzlies was one those wins that make the season bearable.
In the closing seconds of the tight affair, a last moment in-bounds lob pass to Tyson Chandler sealed the win. The play was quite amazing, but many had their doubts. Because Chandler corralled the ball over the cylinder, most were expecting a goaltending call... that, obviously, never came to be.
Well, as it turns out, there's a very little-known rule about what happened last night, that Suns head coach Jay Triano decided to use to his advantage.
“I was trying to create a play where you could score with like three-tenths of a second or something, and I just thought tonight was a good time to do it,” Triano told reporters after the game. “I put it on about two or three days after I took over the job here, and it’s a rule a lot of people don’t know. You cannot goaltend a ball that isn’t going to count, so I told our guys, ‘Shoot the ball in the basket, and all Tyson has to do is touch it on the way down or grab the rim and have it hit your knuckle and go in.’
“I asked the officials when they come and do their clinics and seminars with the coaches. I asked them that 15 years ago when I was in Toronto. I asked them about it, and they had to go back and look at it. I’ve tried to keep it a secret, and it’s not a secret anymore.”
Apparently, it is impossible to goaltend a ball that isn't going to count. So if, say, a player is out of bounds when attempting to take a "shot", that sais shot cannot be goal-tended, even if a player taps it in above the cylinder.
The jig is up now, and the play will probably not work to that level of perfection again. Still, it was a brilliant move for a coach trying to get the win. And for Phoenix, it served as a morale-boosting game that they'll no doubt remember for some time.