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From the NBA rule book, on pg. 22, there are the rules for mandatory timeouts, which state:

If neither team has taken a timeout prior to 6:59 of the period, it shall be mandatory for the Official Scorer to take it at the first dead ball and charge it to the home team. If no subsequent timeouts are taken prior to 2:59, it shall be mandatory for the Official Scorer to take it and charge it to the team not previously charged.

Now, the question I have is what happens if both the home and road teams have taken a timeout in the first 5 minutes of a quarter, and there are no other taken timeouts? Certainly, in this case, there is no timeout charged at the first dead ball after the 7:00 mark. Because there are no subsequent timeouts, one of the teams must be charged with a timeout on a dead ball at the 3:00 mark, but which one will be charged with this timeout. Or, would this be scored as an officials's timeout?

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Here's my interpretation of the rules:

  • There must be at least two timeouts taken in each period. These timeouts will be longer than any later timeouts in the period (by an amount that depends on television coverage).
  • One of these two timeouts must be prior to 6:59 or one will be forced.
  • Both of these timeouts must be prior to 2:59 or one will be forced.

In the question's scenario, if both teams have taken a timeout in the first 5 minutes of the quarter, they will together complete the mandatory timeouts. Television has been able to run the long ad packages and no further must be taken in that period. So no timeout is forced and no team is charged.

If there is only one timeout prior to 2:59 (whether forced by the official or otherwise), then the team that has not taken one yet in the period will be charged with a timeout.

As an example, lets take a look at the Oct 31, 2017 Pistons - Lakers game. In the second quarter, three timeouts were taken in the first four minutes of the quarter. No other timeouts are shown for the rest of the quarter.

(stats.nba.com is not perfect, and I've found some data errors there before, so it would be nice if someone knows of another site where I could confirm the timeout information).

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The way I'm reading this rule based on its text is as follows:

If no subsequent timeouts are taken prior to 2:59, it shall be mandatory for the Official Scorer to take it and charge it to the team not previously charged.

So if Team A takes a timeout at 9:45 and Team B takes a timeout at 7:20, then team A should be charged for the timeout at next deadball of 2:59. Because Team B was the team that was "previously charged" with a timeout. And Team A was the team that was "not previously charged" with a timeout.

I'm answering this question based solely off of how the text is written in this quotation.

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