About those rising tensions between players and referees, it’s not going to be a simple fix.
James Harden dropped 51 points for the second consecutive game Friday night, and for the second game in a row the Rockets lost. Harden got one foul call early on a flop by Jawun Evans (that was so blatant I’m not sure how the officials missed it), and four others came in the final six minutes of the game as the Rockets tried to rally. Mike D’Antoni was so frustrated he picked up a technical on one of the calls.
Asked the source of his frustration, Harden said, “Bulls— calls…
“I’m tired of hearing, ‘I made a mistake,’ or ‘I didn’t see it,'” said Harden… “That’s frustrating when you hear it as a player. I know we all make mistakes, but it’s just frustrating.”
Harden can break out the checkbook now, a fine is coming for that. (He knew it when he said it.)
Harden hasn’t been getting to the line nearly as often this season. With official no longer allowing continuation if a player hasn’t started his shooting motion when fouled, Harden’s free throw rate (number of free throw attempts to field goal attempts) has dropped to his lowest rate since his rookie season. He’s not getting the same calls, somewhat by design.
The officials are also not why the Rockets lost Friday night — Houston’s stout defense for most of the season has gone on vacation the last two games. Austin Rivers lit the Rockets up for 30. That’s been the real problem.