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NBA: Rockets got away with two huge fouls late in win over Nets

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After the Rockets’ 122-118 win over the Nets on Monday, James Harden said, “Every game isn’t going to be perfect.”

This one certainly wasn’t – not by the referees

Houston got away with two fouls on possessions that ended in Brooklyn turnovers, according to the NBA’s Last Two Minute Report. Reversing either huge swing, let alone both, could’ve turned the game’s result.

The first incorrectly uncalled foul should’ve been whistled with 1:31 left, when Sean Kilpatrick drew contact from Eric Gordon before barreling into Nene for a charge. NBA:

Gordon (HOU) makes contact with Kilpatrick’s (BKN) arm that affects his driving shot attempt.

A correctly called shooting foul would’ve given Kilpatrick – who’s making 84% of his free throws this season and 86% for his career – two attempts from the line. Instead, the charge meant the Nets came up empty on the possession.

The other incorrectly uncalled foul came on a Brooklyn inbound with eight eight seconds left. Patrick Beverley grabbed Jeremy Lin before the inbound pass was released, per the league:

Beverley (HOU) grabs and holds Lin (BKN) and affects his FOM during the inbound.

Because it occurred before the inbound pass was released, a correctly called foul would have given Brooklyn one free throw and the ball. Lin is shooting 69% on free throws this season and 80% for his career.

Instead, the Rockets stole the inbound pass. The Nets had to intentionally foul, and Houston added two free throws in its four-point win.

Strangely, the two-minute report acknowledges the Nets shouldn’t have even had the ball for that inbound. The ball on the previous play went off Lin, but officials ruled it off Nene and didn’t review the play. Yet, the league doesn’t denote that as an incorrect call, presumably because determining the correct call required “enhanced video.” But in a situation where a review should have occurred, this seems like an error the league should acknowledge more directly.

Either way, the first missed call in the report – Gordon getting away with a shooting foul – is enough for the Nets to wonder whether an unfavorable whistle down the stretch cost them this game.

Kobe Bryant still has it, bounces shot in from near half court

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This was a Nike gala, an event with a basketball theme. The court was lit up from below, there were tables at half court, and people had drinks in their hands.

Kobe Bryant was there, stylishly dressed in black. So was famous model Winnie Harlow.

Know that regardless of the setting, Kobe still has game.

Draymond Green, Andre Iguodala cleared to play vs. Pelicans Friday

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Without Draymond Green in the fourth quarter Tuesday night in the opener, and with Andre Iguodala out for the game, the Warriors defense fell apart against Houston. The Rockets scored 34 points in the quarter and came from behind to beat a Warriors team that had been in control of the game up to that point. There was more to it than just Green’s balky knee, but without the Defensive Player of the Year they are not the same.

Bad news for the Pelicans: Green and Iguodala have been cleared to play in New Orleans Friday. Green had an MRI and it came back negative.

Green admitted he was concerned that the injury, via Anthony Slater of The Athletic.

Now it is the Pelicans who should be concerned. The Warriors will want to wash the feeling of that opening night loss off them.

Report: Kevin Love was frustrated with move to center

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With Derrick Rose having to start at point guard (until Isiah Thomas returns sometime in early 2018) and Dwyane Wade starting at the two, Cavaliers coach Tyronn Lue had no choice but to move Kevin Love to starting at center. The Cavaliers desperately need the floor spacing to open up driving lanes and options for LeBron James. Start Tristan Thompson at the five (with Love at the four and Jae Crowder coming off the bench) and it adds another non-shooter to the mix that allows opposing defenses to just pack the paint and force LeBron to be a jump shooter.

That doesn’t mean everyone liked the change.

Love admitted to Chris Fedor of the Cleveland Plain Dealer he was frustrated with the move at first.

“It’s been a little bit of a change for me,” Love admitted. “I still find myself spacing a little bit wanting to roll a little bit more and on the defensive end just playing the primary big on their team the whole time on the defensive end. It’s been a little bit different figuring things out on that end, but it comes with the growth I’m talking about. We need to do that and hopefully be a machine when things start clicking.”

Lue put it this way.

“We’re going to try it out and see how it works. He was frustrated at first, but now he’s enjoying it.”

While in certain matchups, when the opposition has a more traditional center, the Cavs may go back to the Love/Thompson front line for a stretch. But the small ball lineup is the way Cleveland should be leaning, even with its clear defensive deficiencies. We saw that in the opener with Love’s dagger three in the fourth quarter.

Love is adjusting, he’s already sacrificed a lot to play with LeBron. This is just another step in that evolution.

Another wing down? Celtics’ Marcus Smart likely out vs. Sixers

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The horrific, probably season-ending injury to Gordon Hayward has left the Celtics with a shortage of players on the wing.

Going up against Philadelphia Friday night, that might be getting worse, reports A. Sherrod Blakely of NBC Sports Boston.

Looking at the pictures, I doubt Smart plays.

As noted, Smart said he hurt both ankles in the second night of a back-to-back against Milwaukee, the left one in a collision with teammate Jaylen Brown. Smart started that game and played 32 minutes. That’s a lot of time to go to lesser players.

If he’s out Friday, that likely means either Terry Rozier or Abdel Nader get the start, and both are going to see a healthy bump in minutes. Whatever happens, the Celtics would miss Smart in a game where they need to defend Ben Simmons on the wing.