Mike D’Antoni admits Rockets ‘quit playing defense’ after controversial call vs. Spurs
The Houston Rockets squandered a huge lead in the fourth quarter and ultimately lost in double-overtime against the San Antonio Spurs on Tuesday night, 135-133. The game didn’t come without controversy either. The officials did not count what was supposed to be two points from a breakaway James Harden dunk that would have given Houston a 104-89 lead with 7:50 remaining in the fourth quarter. Instead, the bizarre miss call became the turning point on what could have been an important road victory for the Rockets and had a lasting impact as head coach Mike D’Antoni admitted.
Via Kelly Iko of The Athletic, D’Antoni said that the controversial call affected them in some way, as they “quit playing defense” after the referees deemed Harden’s supposed made dunk a no-basket.
“A little bit, but that’s our fault,” D’Antoni said of fatigue leading to poor execution. “We should have ended it in regulation, gone home and we’d be fine. Now we’re more tired and played a lot of minutes. We lose the game and now we go to Toronto and it affects a couple of games. We just lost our focus. I don’t know, but down the stretch, we just didn’t do anything to win the game.”
“We just quit playing defense,” D’Antoni said. “We quit getting back, we turned it over silly and didn’t get back. They got hot, made shots and we just didn’t do anything to combat it.”
Nevertheless, D’Antoni still attributes the loss to their sluggish play and lack of focus down the stretch.
Sure, the missed call may have played a part in swinging the tide. It’s also arguable that the two extra points could have given Houston a better cushion down the stretch to close out the Spurs.
However, as D’Antoni said, they can only really blame themselves for the loss. If the Rockets executed well in the fourth quarter and protected their lead well enough, they wouldn’t have to point to the controversial miss call as one of the reasons for their loss.
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