SAN ANTONIO — The Houston Rockets are optimistic the NBA office will take action after the referees mistakenly did not count a James Harden dunk in Tuesday night’s 135-133 double-overtime loss to the San Antonio Spurs, sources told ESPN.
The Rockets are hopeful the league office will either award the win 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.
Harden’s breakaway dunk with 7:50 remaining would have given the Rockets a 103-89 lead. The ball whipped through the net and back over the rim before bouncing off, and the officiating crew mistakenly ruled that Harden missed the dunk and denied Houston coach Mike D’Antoni’s attempt to challenge the call.
“When the play happened, Harden goes in for a dunk, and then the ball appears to us to pop back through the net,” crew chief James Capers told a pool reporter. “When that happens, that is basket interference. To have a successful field goal, it must clear the net. We have since come in here and looked at the play. He dunked it so hard that the net carried it back over the rim a second time, so in fact it did clear the net and should have been a successful field goal.
“As to could the play have been reviewed, it is a reviewable matter, but you have a window of 30 seconds to challenge the play during that timeout that he had and 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.”
D’Antoni, who spoke to the media before the pool report was released, had a different account of the referees’ explanation immediately after the play.
“I have no idea,” D’Antoni said. “I heard that they said the ball hit James and went back through, so it was a goaltend on James. I challenged that, and I didn’t get a response. Then another guy said it wasn’t a goaltend; it went out of bounds on us. And I said, ‘Well, I challenge that.’ Can’t do that. You know, I don’t know, to answer your question. I’ve got nothing. I can’t tell you.”