The ball went through the hoop
The Rockets lost to the Spurs in double overtime last night by two points. Not coincidentally, the Rockets were robbed of two points in the fourth quarter when a successful James Harden dunk was amazingly not counted.
The play came with 7:50 left in the fourth quarter, as the Rockets were in the midst of blowing a once-sizable lead. Houston led by as many as 22 late in the third quarter but saw the advantage dissipate over the final 14 minutes of regulation. The teams played two overtime periods before the Spurs came out on top, 135–133.
Houston coach Mike D’Antoni pleaded with the referees that “It went through!” but to no avail. D’Antoni’s protest is also a source of controversy. He said he tried to challenge the play but the official in charge said the coach didn’t act quickly enough.
“They said that the ball hit James and went back through [the hoop], so it was goaltending on James, so I said, ‘I challenge that,’” D’Antoni told reporters.
“I didn’t get a response. Another guy said that it wasn’t goaltending, it just went out of bounds on us. I said, ‘Well, I challenge that.’ They go, ‘Can’t do that.’ I don’t know. I didn’t get an explanation. I got nothin’.”
Crew chief James Capers said D’Antoni took too much time arguing the call before formally challenging.
“It is a reviewable matter, but you have a window of 30 seconds to challenge the play during the timeout that he had,” told a pool reporter. “While they were protesting the call, trying to get clarification of it, that window passed. So therefore it elapsed and they were not able to do it.”
The Rockets are not ready to concede defeat, though. The team is holding out hope that the league will step in and throw out the result of the game, ESPN’s Tim MacMahon reports.
“The Rockets are hopeful the league office will either award the victory to Houston due to the Rockets outscoring the Spurs in regulation or order that the final 7 minutes, 50 seconds be replayed at a later date, sources said,” MacMahon wrote.
Just changing the game to a Houston win is obviously absurd. The Spurs could have just as easily come back from a 15-point deficit with 7:50 remaining as a 13-point deficit. But replaying the final moments of a game after an officiating blunder isn’t unprecedented. It last happened in 2008, when a Hawks official scorer incorrectly ruled that Shaquille O’Neal had fouled out for the Heat. Atlanta and Miami met again four months later to play out the last 51 seconds for a second time.
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