After James Harden’s fourth-quarter dunk was ruled no basket despite it going through, reports suggest the Houston Rockets may protest the game’s result.
In a disastrous collapse, the Houston Rockets blew a 22-point lead over the struggling San Antonio Spurs to lose 135-133 in double overtime. The game was full of bizarre storylines, from Houston’s collapse to Lonnie Walker IV suddenly turning into Damian Lillard in the fourth quarter. Most bizarre of all, however, was something that happened with 7:50 remaining in the final frame.
After picking off a DeMarre Carroll pass, James Harden ran the length of the court and dunked the ball so hard that it fell through the net and looped back around to the top of the rim again. Not sure what happened, he eventually hit the ball out-of-bounds and the officials on the court decided to wave the basket off.
While it looked strange at the time, further review from anyone with eyes would show that the basket cleanly went through the net all the way.
The bucket would have put Houston up 104-98, and when you consider that the game went into overtime, one could argue it should never have gotten to that point since the Rockets technically had two more points than the Spurs at the end of regulation.
ESPN writer Tim MacMahon went into detail about possible results from the botched call on Tuesday night after the game:
A Rockets source is optimistic that the NBA office will take action regarding James Harden's dunk that didn't count, either awarding the win to Houston or ordering that the final 7:50 be replayed because the Rockets outscored the Spurs in regulation. The Rockets believe a…
— Tim MacMahon (@espn_macmahon) December 4, 2019
McMahon adds that a protest might not be necessary, as the league might just naturally step in to make a ruling. Reversing the result of the game in favor of a Houston win would be unprecedented, but there is a precedent for replaying a game from the point of an egregious error.
In 2008, the Miami Heat and Atlanta Hawks replayed the last 51.9 seconds of a game in which Shaquille O’Neal was mistakenly attributed a foul by the bookkeeper which resulted in him “fouling out” with that amount of time left in the game. The NBA eventually upheld the Miami Heat’s protest and replayed from that point before the teams’ next meeting.
If a similar situation occurs, it could mean the last 7:50 of the game would be replayed on a date that works for both teams, as McMahon explained on SportsCenter Tuesday night.
Given that the NBA officials admitted they missed the basket, it seems like something must be done about the mistake. It will be an interesting next couple of days for the Houston Rockets and the league overall.