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The Rockets’ delusion continues, hoping the NBA will gift them win over Spurs

Spurs, Rockets, NBA

The Houston Rockets were quick to place their hopes on the league office, hoping the NBA will review a missed observation by the referees during Tuesday’s 135-133 double-overtime loss to the San Antonio Spurs.

ESPN’s Tim MacMahon reported that the Rockets were hopeful the league either awards them the victory, as Houston would have outscored the Spurs in regulation if Harden’s dunk would have counted — or order that the final 7 minutes, 50 seconds be replayed at a later date.

The league reportedly scoffed at the notion of awarding them the win, likely due to how much of the game was left for the call to be that directly impactful. Had Harden’s basket counted, the Rockets would have had a 104-89 lead.

Harden got his hands in the passing lane and raced up court for a left-handed slam, one he dunked so hard that it went through the net and upon the cylinder again, giving the optical illusion that he had blown the point-blank dunk attempt. Harden chased after the rebound, but it was deflected out of bounds from his own hands, as he pleaded to the officials that the ball did indeed go through the net.

Following the game, crew chief James Capers admitted the officiating crew went back to look at the replay and the basket was indeed missed, owning up to the blunder.

“When the play happened, Harden goes in for a dunk, and then the ball appears to us to pop back through the net,” crew chief James Capers told a pool reporter. “When that happens, that is basket interference. To have a successful field goal, it must clear the net. We have since come in here and looked at the play. He dunked it so hard that the net carried it back over the rim a second time, so in fact it did clear the net and should have been a successful field goal.

Yet Capers said the score was a reviewable play, but officials weren’t asked to do so.

“As to could the play have been reviewed, it is a reviewable matter, but you have a window of 30 seconds to challenge the play during that timeout that he had and while they were protesting the call, trying to get clarification of it, that window passed,” added Capers. “So therefore, it elapsed, and they were not able to do it.”

The Rockets had an immediate chance to challenge the play on a dead ball, as the ball had gone out of bounds, but officials insist no such action were asked of them.

Houston once again appears to tiredly ask for the mercy of the league after blowing what was a 16-point lead at the start of the fourth quarter against a team that had only won a third of its games before tip-off.

The fans sure aren’t feeling sorry for the Rockets, and neither is the league, considering the challenging manifesto they brought to them, claiming they would have won the series over the Golden State Warriors in 2018, after putting together a potential 81 missed calls from Game 7 of the Western Conference Finals. This was largely viewed as the sorriest attempt at justice after the Rockets (once again) blew a 3-2 lead and repeatedly claimed it would have ended differently had Chris Paul been healthy enough to play.

Make no mistake, the Rockets are chasing excellence — but it can’t come this way.

Harden did make that dunk and it should have counted for two points, but those are highly unlikely to have made a difference in the eventual outcome of the game. Harden actually makes a 3-pointer shortly after not being credited with the dunk, extending the lead back to 16. The Rockets arguably don’t start to fall apart at the seams until the 5:30 mark, kickstarting a 6-0 Spurs run to close the deficit to eight points.

The Rockets had plenty of chances to put the game away, but most importantly — Harden had plenty of those chances to put his team back in the lead.

Let’s start with regulation: Harden was called for an offensive foul on a drive with 0.4 seconds remaining in the game. Officials overturned the foul after the Rockets challenged, but instead called Houston center Clint Capela for an offensive foul. Bryn Forbes then missed a jumper at the buzzer.

Harden went to his strong hand in the final play of the first overtime, but his floater off the glass came short.

In the second overtime, after a pair of DeMar DeRozan free throws gave the Spurs a one-point lead, Harden was called for another charge with 0.8 seconds left, as DeRozan took the bump straight in the chest. After the officials reviewed the play, the call stood.

The delusion of giving the Rockets an unearned win because the officials missed a dunk that should have counted is so outstanding that it even makes the league scoff at the notion of doing it. A total of 7:50 was left to play, and Lonnie Walker IV’s assault on Houston would have likely happened whether the basket counted or not. The Rockets did what they’ve been doing from the start and relaxed when they’re ahead, and the Spurs punished them for it with some of the best shot-making this season.

The duo of Harden and Russell Westbrook had 68 combined chances to put this game to bed, but instead, they allowed a team they left for dead to pick them apart with top-notch execution. The two-combined for a mind-blowing 50 misses on Tuesday, the first time two teammates have done so since the NBA-ABA merger.

Harden himself had the lion’s share of the attempts, making only 11-of-38 (28.9%) from the floor and 4-of-20 from deep, but benefitting from 24 trips to the foul line; converting, to his credit, an NBA record 24 of them — the most without a miss in the history of the league.

Yet had it not been for The Beard’s prowess at the foul line, and this could have been one ugly shooting night along with Westbrook’s

The Spurs had much less firepower, but executed better and didn’t get rattled under pressure, which eventually earned them the best win of their young season. Replaying the last 7:50 of this game would only be a disservice to the game, given that this game can be scoured for plenty of other missed calls and game-changing outcomes that could have turned the tide one way or another.

The Rockets had their chances to win, Harden had plenty of opportunities to be the hero, but the cards weren’t in his favor. While the refs blew the call, he blew 27 field goal attempts — more than most star players take in a game.

Sorry, we’re not sorry. No one wants to see another 7:50 of glorified iso ball and countless pleads for foul calls. Saddle up and move on, just like the rest of the league does after a loss.

The post The Rockets’ delusion continues, hoping the NBA will gift them win over Spurs appeared first on ClutchPoints.

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