The play could not have been scripted. In fact, the Houston Rockets’ season could not have been scripted. A team that was predicted by many to have a mediocre season at best is now officially headed to the playoffs for the first time since 2009 after a 101-98 win over the Phoenix Suns Tuesday night.
With the game tied at 98 and the ball in the hands of James Harden for the game’s last possession, Harden shot a three with the clock expiring. The ball hit the back of the rim, bounced straight up, and before it could come down, Suns’ center Jermaine O’Neal touched the ball with his hand through the basket going for the rebound.
Referee David Jones saw goaltending and counted the basket that gave the Rockets the win.
Harden finished with 33 points, 6 rebounds, and 6 assists, but it was his last shot that received more attention.
“It was off the rim, for sure,” Jermaine O’Neal said. “He (David Jones) is saying it was still in the cylinder when I did it. The problem is that they called a goaltend and counted the basket before they did the review. So there’s not enough evidence to change the call. You should make sure that’s the call you should make, and it should be clarified before you say, `Basket counts.”
Jones had a different view.
“Jermaine O’Neal touched it while it was in the cylinder,” Jones told a pool reporter. “The ball was on the rim and in the cylinder. He (O’Neal) doesn’t go up through the net, his hand is on the net, but not in the net.”
Harden went only 2 for 8 from 3-point range and had nine turnovers. He thought his last shot was going in, before O’Neal touched it.
“It actually felt good leaving my hands,” Harden said. “The ball bounced up and I kept looking at it. I see these hands touch the ball, so I kind of was happy.”
The Rockets got contributions from Jeremy Lin, who finished with 13 points and 6 assists, Francisco Garcia, who started in place of Chandler Parsons again, scored 15 points, while Omer Asik grabbed 22 rebounds.
But the Suns hung in tough all game, holding a lead until the final minutes of the game. Luis Scola led Phoenix with 28 points, while Goran Dragic added 15 points and 10 assists.
The Rockets are now 1 game behind the Golden State Warriors, who clinched a playoff berth as well Tuesday night, for 6th place. They next play the Memphis Grizzlies Friday night at Toyota Center.
|Luis Scola, PF||38||12-20||0-0||4-5||2||6||8||2||1||1||3||3||-1||28|
|Markieff Morris, PF||28||4-10||3-3||0-0||3||6||9||3||1||2||4||1||-5||11|
|Wesley Johnson, SF||13||3-8||0-1||3-3||0||3||3||0||0||0||3||0||-11||9|
|Goran Dragic, PG||38||6-10||1-2||2-4||0||4||4||10||4||1||3||0||+1||15|
|P.J. Tucker, SG||25||2-6||0-0||4-4||3||2||5||0||1||0||1||5||-8||8|
|Marcus Morris, PF||23||5-8||1-1||0-0||2||3||5||0||1||0||2||4||+5||11|
|Jermaine O’Neal, C||26||2-12||0-0||2-3||1||5||6||1||0||1||0||5||-3||6|
|Kendall Marshall, PG||23||1-5||0-1||0-0||0||0||0||4||1||0||2||1||+5||2|
|Jared Dudley, SG||25||3-7||2-4||0-0||0||1||1||4||0||0||1||1||+2||8|
|Michael Beasley, SF||DNP PERSONAL REASONS|
|Hamed Haddadi, C||DNP COACH’S DECISION|
|Diante Garrett, PG||DNP COACH’S DECISION|
|Shannon Brown, PG||DNP COACH’S DECISION|
Fast break points: 25
Points in the paint: 44
Total Team Turnovers (Points off turnovers): 19 (23)
+/- denotes team’s net points while the player is on the court.
|Greg Smith, PF||28||5-7||0-0||2-3||3||2||5||0||1||1||1||2||+5||12|
|Omer Asik, C||38||3-9||0-0||2-2||7||15||22||0||2||2||0||3||+12||8|
|Jeremy Lin, PG||37||5-14||0-4||3-3||0||1||1||6||2||0||2||1||+2||13|
|Francisco Garcia, SG||36||6-13||3-10||0-0||1||0||1||2||1||0||1||3||+9||15|
|James Harden, SG||44||9-21||2-8||13-14||0||6||6||6||3||1||9||3||+2||33|
|Terrence Jones, PF||23||5-8||0-1||1-2||2||4||6||2||1||0||1||2||-10||11|
|Donatas Motiejunas, PF||6||0-2||0-1||0-0||0||1||1||0||0||0||0||0||-4||0|
|Patrick Beverley, PG||20||4-10||1-5||0-0||1||0||1||2||1||1||1||2||-3||9|
|James Anderson, SG||6||0-2||0-1||0-0||1||0||1||1||0||0||1||0||+2||0|
|Thomas Robinson, PF||DNP COACH’S DECISION|
|Chandler Parsons, SF||DNP STRAINED RIGHT CALF|
|Aaron Brooks, PG||DNP COACH’S DECISION|
|Carlos Delfino, SG||DNP FLU|