EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. - Andre Iguodala said he knew the 76ers had lost when he heard the crowd.
Andre Miller said he knew they had lost when he saw the referee thrust his arms in the air, signaling a made three-pointer.
The final score last night: New Jersey Nets 98, Sixers 96.
But that wasn't the score at the buzzer. At the buzzer, the score was Sixers 96, Nets 95.
Really, though, when the buzzer sounded, no one knew who had lost and who had won: Not the Sixers, not the Nets, not the referees, and certainly not the 13,236 in attendance at the Izod Center.
Because when the buzzer sounded, the ball, flung from just past half court by Nets point guard Devin Harris, was still flying toward the hoop, yet to reach its final destination: the bottom of the net.
But then it did, thrilling the crowd, who began cheering as much for the spectacle of Harris' bobbled, one-footed effort as for the victory.
Immediately, though, referee Violet Palmer waved her arms, signaling that the basket would not count, indicating that Harris had released the ball after the buzzer.
The referees immediately came together. None had any evidence to overrule Palmer's on-court call so they turned to the video replay.
They watched. Two minutes, 30 seconds passed. The three huddled, then the lead official, Derrick Stafford, lifted his arms - the universal signal for "It's good."
"We try to have clear, conclusive information for us to overturn the play," said Stafford, who said the three referees unanimously agreed that the call should be overturned.
"I didn't want to watch the replay," said Harris, who finished with 39 points. "I kept my head down, looking for more of a reaction than anything. I barely saw the ball go in. [I was] looking at Violet when she said no good. That's the first thing that I saw. You have one team jumping up like they're winning; we're jumping up like we're winning. You really have to pray at that point."
The Sixers are now 27-28, losers of four straight. The Nets improved to 25-32 and snapped a five-game losing streak.
"Well, you know, there's not a whole lot to say when you win a game like that," said Nets coach Lawrence Frank.
How did it get to a half-court heave?
With the game tied at 95-95 and 13 seconds left, Iguodala dribbled down the clock and drove to the hoop. He was fouled with 1.8 seconds left. Iguodala made 1 of 2 free throws for a 96-95 lead. He led the Sixers with 21 points.
The Nets, without a time-out, inbounded to Harris along the left side of the court. He took one dribble with Iguodala in front of him. Iguodala stripped Harris of the ball, but it bounced off Iguodala and landed back in Harris' hands.
Immediately, Harris planted his right foot, a step before half court, and heaved the ball toward the rim.
"I thought a lot was going on for 1.8 seconds," Iguodala said. "I thought for sure it wasn't good, and I still don't think it was good. . . . There were so many things that went on in a small amount of time for that shot to be good."
"It was no good, we all know that," Miller said. "It was a half-court shot; by rule if it's not conclusive, you can't overturn the call. Violet called it no good, and by the video, he didn't get the ball off in time, so I don't know how you can overturn a call that was called no good, plain and simple."
"I thought it wasn't good," said Sixers coach Tony DiLeo.
The Sixers also said the clock did not start precisely when Harris caught the inbounds pass, allowing him another half-second with which to work.
Sixers spokesman Mike Preston said the Sixers would be in touch with the league regarding the final 1.8 seconds.