Of course there was an officiating controversy, it’s Houston vs. Golden State. There has to be some.
Rockets fans (and players) claimed that with :11 seconds to go in the game, with the Rockets down three, Chris Paul and James Harden trapped Klay Thompson on the sideline, and as Thompson leaned back to find room to throw a pass he stepped out of bounds with the ball in his hands. You can see the play in the video above, and screenshots from it make it look like Thompson steps out of bounds with the ball in his hand. The call would have given the Rockets a chance to tie the game.
The NBA didn’t see it that way, calling it inconclusive in the Last Two Minute Report:
Paul (HOU) and Harden (HOU) trap Thompson (GSW) against the sideline and Thompson jumps backwards to find an opening for the pass. After reviewing the play from multiple angles and frame-by-frame, there is no conclusive angle that shows the ball touching Thompson’s (GSW) fingertips as he lands before releasing the ball on his pass attempt.
The L2M report also said Thompson should have been called for a reach-in foul on Gordon with 1:26 left in the game (Gordon regained control of the ball after it was knocked away).
Two quick thoughts.
First, while the official was standing right next to Thompson as he tries to make that pass that referee is really not in a good position to make that call — there’s no way he can see the release of the ball and the foot at the same time from his vantage point. He was too close.
Second, this call is not why the Rockets lost. Houston gave up 32 points to a Golden State team without Kevin Durant in the fourth, that is why it lost. It’s never one play, one thing, or one call.