Watch James Harden’s dunk get waved off (he still scores 50), but Rockets fall to Spurs in 2OT

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In what was the wildest game this season, the San Antonio Spurs came from 20 down in the third to beat the Houston Rockets in double overtime, all that in spite of James Harden dropping 50.

Harden was in the middle of everything, including one of the strangest missed calls by an official that you will ever see, saying a James Harden dunk did not count. Here is the play in question:

To the naked eye, if the officials thought the ball didn’t go through, or bounced off Harden and back out without cleaning the net, that can happen. People make mistakes. However, Rockets coach Mike D’Antoni first asked for a clarification of the call and then asked for a coach’s challenge review. Multiple times. And didn’t get it, the bad call stood. Why? Here’s the official explanation.

This feels like the crew chief covering the, um, behinds of his crew. There are zero reasons not to review that after D’Antoni asked for it, by the time you clarified a complicated call. The 30-second rule is being used as a cover. The referees missed this and needed to prioritize getting the call right. (We have seen this more than once this season.)

The Rockets may protest the game.

As bad as the call was, I’d be shocked if the league changed the call and forced a replay (they certainly are not just going to give the Rockets the win, the end of the game would have played out with differently if the Rockets were ahead).  It’s just not what the league does.

This play also is not why the Rockets lost.

Houston was up 20 with 3:23 left in the third and by 10 with 3:53 left in the fourth but, as has followed a pattern with this team, could not hold the lead. If a team has those kinds of leads late, one play did not cost them the game.

Lonnie Walker IV had a career-high 28 points with 18 points coming in the fourth quarter — including eight straight to close the game and force overtime — to spark the Spurs 135-133 in a double overtime win. DeMar DeRozan added 23 points, nine assists, and five rebounds.

Harden scored his 50 in 49 minutes, all that coming off a 60-point outing Saturday.

Harden also was called for two charges in the second overtime. The second came against DeRozan with 0.8 seconds remaining, sealing San Antonio’s victory.


Rockets: At Toronto on Thursday night.

Spurs: Host Sacramento on Friday night.