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Houston Rockets: Clinch Playoff Berth with a Goaltending Call

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Apr 9, 2013; Houston, TX, USA; Houston Rockets power forward Greg Smith (4) and Jeremy Lin (7) celebrate after defeating the Phoenix Suns 101-98 at Toyota Center. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

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.

Box Score:

Phoenix Suns

STARTERS

MIN

FGM-A

3PM-A

FTM-A

OREB

DREB

REB

AST

STL

BLK

TO

PF

+/-

PTS

Luis Scola

38

12-20

0-0

4-5

2

6

8

2

1

1

3

3

-1

28

Markieff Morris

28

4-10

3-3

0-0

3

6

9

3

1

2

4

1

-5

11

Wesley Johnson

13

3-8

0-1

3-3

0

3

3

0

0

0

3

0

-11

9

Goran Dragic

38

6-10

1-2

2-4

0

4

4

10

4

1

3

0

+1

15

P.J. Tucker

25

2-6

0-0

4-4

3

2

5

0

1

0

1

5

-8

8

BENCH

MIN

FGM-A

3PM-A

FTM-A

OREB

DREB

REB

AST

STL

BLK

TO

PF

+/-

PTS

Marcus Morris

23

5-8

1-1

0-0

2

3

5

0

1

0

2

4

+5

11

Jermaine O’Neal

26

2-12

0-0

2-3

1

5

6

1

0

1

0

5

-3

6

Kendall Marshall

23

1-5

0-1

0-0

0

0

0

4

1

0

2

1

+5

2

Jared Dudley

25

3-7

2-4

0-0

0

1

1

4

0

0

1

1

+2

8

Michael Beasley

DNP PERSONAL REASONS

Hamed Haddadi

DNP COACH’S DECISION

Diante Garrett

DNP COACH’S DECISION

Shannon Brown

DNP COACH’S DECISION

TOTALS

FGM-A

3PM-A

FTM-A

OREB

DREB

REB

AST

STL

BLK

TO

PF

PTS

Fast break points:   25Points in the paint:   44Total Team Turnovers (Points off turnovers):   19 (23)

+/- denotes team’s net points while the player is on the court.

Houston Rockets

STARTERS

MIN

FGM-A

3PM-A

FTM-A

OREB

DREB

REB

AST

STL

BLK

TO

PF

+/-

PTS

Greg Smith

28

5-7

0-0

2-3

3

2

5

0

1

1

1

2

+5

12

Omer Asik

38

3-9

0-0

2-2

7

15

22

0

2

2

0

3

+12

8

Jeremy Lin

37

5-14

0-4

3-3

0

1

1

6

2

0

2

1

+2

13

Francisco Garcia

36

6-13

3-10

0-0

1

0

1

2

1

0

1

3

+9

15

James Harden

44

9-21

2-8

13-14

0

6

6

6

3

1

9

3

+2

33

BENCH

MIN

FGM-A

3PM-A

FTM-A

OREB

DREB

REB

AST

STL

BLK

TO

PF

+/-

PTS

Terrence Jones

23

5-8

0-1

1-2

2

4

6

2

1

0

1

2

-10

11

Donatas Motiejunas

6

0-2

0-1

0-0

0

1

1

0

0

0

0

0

-4

0

Patrick Beverley

20

4-10

1-5

0-0

1

0

1

2

1

1

1

2

-3

9

James Anderson

6

0-2

0-1

0-0

1

0

1

1

0

0

1

0

+2

0

Thomas Robinson

DNP COACH’S DECISION

Chandler Parsons

DNP STRAINED RIGHT CALF

Aaron Brooks

DNP COACH’S DECISION

Carlos Delfino

DNP FLU

TOTALS

FGM-A

3PM-A

FTM-A

OREB

DREB

REB

AST

STL

BLK

TO

PF

PTS

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