MIAMI (AP) — Max Strus' heel caught the attention of the NBA replay center with the Miami Heat facing elimination — again.
Strus had a corner 3-pointer taken off the scoreboard following a review by league officials Friday night in Miami's win-or-else game against the Chicago Bulls, after it was determined that the back of his foot touched the sideline before he took the shot.
It didn't end up mattering: Strus scored 31 points, and the Heat advanced to a first-round meeting with Milwaukee by topping the Bulls 102-91.
"They should have given us that one just for the one last year," Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said.
Friday's erased shot was eerily reminiscent of a play where Strus made a corner 3 in Game 7 of last year's Eastern Conference finals against the Boston Celtics, only to have it taken away by NBA replay officials watching in Secaucus, New Jersey — when they said his heel, again, was out of bounds before his shot.
And just like last year, the Heat weren't certain that Strus was out of bounds this time, either.
"I heard I didn't again." Strus said. "I don't know what the deal is. If I did anything wrong to the NBA offices, I'm sorry. But yeah, I don't understand, but whatever. Thank God we won this game instead."
Strus made a 3-pointer in the opening minute of the third quarter of that game against the Celtics, but it was not known that the NBA had ruled he was out of bounds for several more minutes. Those three points were important; the Heat's season ended with a 100-96 loss, though three more points on their side of the scoreboard probably would have had Miami making some different decisions in the final moments of that game.
Miami thought it had gotten within 56-54 when Strus rattled in that corner 3 early in the third quarter of Game 7. But the Celtics answered with a 9-1 run, and when the NBA ruling came, what had been a 56-54 game became 65-52.
The saga wound up leading to an NBA rule change this past summer.
Now, when the replay center makes a scoring change during play, a blue light will flash at the scorer's table, indicating that a decision is about to be announced. The change now gets announced at the first neutral opportunity, meaning a game could be stopped in certain situations to update the score.