Game events:

Last 3 seconds:

Last 3 Seconds: Second Play

The court was cleared, so everything appeared to be ready for Soviet attack.

Not so fast.

The attempt was unsuccessful. Edeshko could not make a long pass because McMillen was swinging his hands just in front of him. Instead, Edeshko passed the ball to Paulauskas, who was standing in Soviets' half. Paulauskas threw it forward, but he had barely released the ball when the horn sounded. The ball got nowhere near the target, so the Americans started celebrating the Gold Medal. However, it was clear that the horn sounded long before the three seconds expired. Also, the scoreboard showed 50 seconds left, so that obviously didn't fit the "end of the game" definition.

Here is what's happened (just in my speculation theory).

The timekeeper was supposed to double-press the button that adds one second to the timer. As we already know, he was inexperienced, so he erred. Instead, he pressed a button that adds one minute! To his terror, he realized that the time was now 1:01! Sweating all over, he decided not to touch these dangerous buttons, but rather set the right time by pressing a decrementing button. He got the clock down to 50 seconds when he realized that the game had already started! He had no choice but to press the horn button, thus stopping the game.

Almost everyone in the arena took that as the signal that game time had expired. The crowd rushed onto the court. The Americans started celebrating their apparent victory. However, it was not over yet.

This time, it took a lot longer to get everyone back in their seats.