- Associated Press - Wednesday, February 23, 2011

AUBURN HILLS, MICH. (AP) - The NBA has a message for players and officials: Be ready to start when a timeout is over.

The league’s scoreboard operators have been told to sound warning horns during breaks in the action in an effort to cut down on the length of games. According to a courtside memo Tuesday night at the Detroit Pistons’ game against the Houston Rockets, games have been taking longer, “largely due to prolonged delays after breaks.”

NBA spokesman Tim Frank confirmed to The Associated Press that the new protocol went into effect Tuesday night.

Memos outlined new procedures for locally telecast games, including warning horns to be sounded shortly before the ends of timeouts and breaks between periods.

Those warning horns are to be followed by final horns ending those breaks, and referees are directed to make sure huddles break promptly.

“We communicated to teams that the first horn was a warning that the TO was to end and that they should be on their way to resume by the second,” Frank said in an e-mail.

Detroit’s 108-100 loss to Houston ended in 2 hours, 4 minutes _ the Pistons’ fastest home game of the season.

Elsewhere, Indiana’s game at Washington ended in 2:21.

“I’m a rookie coach, and I need to get my guys out of the huddle faster,” Indiana’s Frank Vogel said.

Charlotte’s home game against Toronto was over in 2:12, and players said the change wasn’t a big deal.

“I didn’t notice it. I really didn’t even know about it,” Toronto guard Jerryd Bayless said. “I’m not really worried about the horn too much, I’m worried about what (coach) Jay (Triano) and everybody else is saying. I don’t know, I didn’t hear it.”

___

AP Sports Writers Joseph White in Washington, Mike Cranston in Charlotte, N.C., and Tim Reynolds in Miami, and freelance writer Rich Dubroff in Washington contributed to this report.