NBA Commissioner Adam Silver denied Houston’s protest of the San Antonio Spurs’ 135-133 overtime victory on December 3, and rightfully so.
Allow me to preface the rest of this article with this: Former-MVP and league-leading scorer James Harden’s dunk midway through the fourth quarter was without a doubt a made basket. The ball went through the hoop and by all accounts, he should’ve been allotted two extra points. It’s undeniable that the referees made a mistake and should’ve listened to both Harden and his coach, Mike D’Antoni when they called for a replay.
However, it was announced on Tuesday that Adam Silver felt that the Rockets had “sufficient time to overcome the error,” henceforth putting an end to this madness.
From the point in which Harden was called for offensive goaltending at 7:05 in the fourth quarter, the Rockets allowed the San Antonio Spurs to outscore them by 13 including an incredible run by sophomore Lonnie Walker IV. Before this, the Spurs were already outscoring them by three points in the period.
The refs really didn't count this Harden dunk ? pic.twitter.com/tkpFWpqu9f
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) December 4, 2019
No surprise, but the NBA has denied the Rockets' protest related to James Harden's disappearing dunk. Adam Silver says Houston had "sufficient time" to overcome the error. The three officials have been "disciplined."
The Spurs remain undefeated since the incident. pic.twitter.com/wb8y9cnXBW
— Mike Finger (@mikefinger) December 9, 2019
It’s no secret that the Rockets are one of, if not the singular most manipulative teams in the league. Harden’s playstyle is expertly designed to force the ref’s whistle by drawing contact on the way to the rim and on deep jumpers from behind the arc. They lead the league in free throw attempts per game and Harden leads all players in free throw attempts by 70 shots.
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He took and made 24 free throws in that contest, setting a record for the most free throws without a miss in a single game, but shot an abysmal 29.7% on a game-high 37 shots. His partner in crime, triple-double machine Russell Westbrook, made only 23.3% of his 30 shots before fouling out. When your star players miss 49 total shots and your team makes only 42 field goals, you don’t deserve to win.
San Antonio, on the other hand, finished by shooting 47.2% from the field, 43.3% from three-point land and tallied 35 assists to the Rockets’ 22. It wasn’t a pretty game for the Spurs with DeMar DeRozan and Rudy Gay combining to shoot 13-of-37 themselves, but Lonnie Walker IV saved the day with his 28 points in 35 minutes along with some stellar defense against the most daunting backcourt in the sport.
That game wasn’t decided by the referees or their misunderstanding of Harden’s dunk. It was decided by two players in particular: Harden and Walker. If the Rockets deserved that win, they would’ve finished it off in not one but two overtime periods. Instead, they crumbled against their conference rival and the pressure of an energetic AT&T Center crowd.
Silver is one of the most highly-respected figured in professional sports for his innovative leadership and level-headedness. As he usually does, he got this one right.