Hard foul in Game 3 the latest incident involving Royce O’Neale and James Harden
Things got chippy in Game 3 of the first-round series matchup between the Utah Jazz and the Houston Rockets. At one point, Jazz forward Royce O’Neale gave up a hard foul on Rockets superstar James Harden, which left both guys on the floor following the overly-physical play.
— Alykhan Bijani (@Rockets_Insider) April 21, 2019
This was judged as a common foul, and O’Neale was not called for a Flagrant 1 despite what appeared to be a bit of extra motion on the play.
After multiple viewings of the play, however, it does seem that O’Neale was holding on to Harden in order to prevent him from suffering a nasty fall. Both guys were running at full speed on the fastbreak play, so perhaps the collision might have turned ugly had O’Neale opted against holding on to Harden.
Nevertheless, these two have a bit of a history between them, which may have caused suspicion for some in terms of O’Neale wanting to send a message to the reigning MVP.
In this series, O’Neale has done quite a commendable job in defending Harden, specifically when it comes to staying in front of him. Below is a compilation of O’Neale’s defensive job on Harden from Game 1 of the series.
Last season, these two had a bit of a run-in as their teams also faced each other in the playoffs. Here’s a look:
O’Neale does appear to have a bit of an edge over Harden, and seems to have an ability to get under his skin. This might be the X-factor the Jazz need in order to turn things around. Now down 0-3, Utah will need to pull off all the stops in order to give themselves a chance to somehow get back into this series.
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