As a hustle- and energy-providing big man off the Orlando Magic's bench, Kyle O'Quinn is expected to contribute to his team in ways which the stat sheet may not necessarily record: he sets hard screens and boxes out at both ends of the floor, among other unglamorous tasks. And in Friday's loss to the Boston Celtics (game recap, notebook), he made a fun and unusual contribution which, as typifies his role, won't appear in the box score. Thankfully, we have video of the event.
With 1:46 to play in the third quarter and Orlando trailing by seven, Magic forward Maurice Harkless took a feed from Victor Oladipo into Boston's defense, absorbed contact from Brandon Bass, and finished a one-handed jam. He went to the foul line to complete the three-point play. As his free throw dropped through the net, drawing Orlando to within four of the visiting Celtics, O'Quinn reached up and touched it with his left hand.
O'Quinn quickly realized that making contact with the ball after his team scored could result in a delay-of-game penalty, so he withdrew his hand and let the ball drop to the floor, where it bounced between his legs. The Magic big man, not wanting to make any more contact with the ball to risk a delay-of-game whistle, awkwardly adjusted his gait to avoid the ball altogether, as if the outcome of the game hinged upon his ability to evade the sphere.
On its website, the NBA says the Competition Committee "calibrate[d] the interpretation of the delay-of-game violation" over the summer:
Referees will call a delay-of-game any time a player on the new defensive team after a made basket holds or redirects the ball. When this occurs, his team will be assessed a delay-of-game warning on their first offense or a technical foul following a previous delay warning.
Friday's officiating crew of Tony Brothers, Steven Anderson, and Tre Maddox elected against whistling O'Quinn for a violation under the adjusted rule, which is designed to prevent teams from gaining a tactical advantage by delaying their opponents from inbounding the ball.