The Houston Rockets came back in the second half Sunday night in Phoenix to beat a Suns team they’re battling for playoff position with in the Western Conference. The win came despite a career high 35 points from Goran Dragic (from here on out, known simply as “Dragon”), and a late game lane violation committed by Dwight Howard that was missed by the refs during a free throw attempt. As the late Lefty Gomez says, “I’d rather be lucky than good.”
With Houston up 114-112, and 14.1 seconds remaining, Donatas Montiejunas was at the line to attempt his second free throw. That’s when Howard crowded into the lane WELL before Montiejunas let the ball fly. It’s glaringly obvious, as the announcers contend in the video below, even though Markieff Morris also steps into the lane, which can be discounted because the shot fell. Howard â€” as the offensive player on the play â€” doesn’t get that caveat and he’s at least three steps into the lane once it leaves Montiejunas’ hands.
Via the NBA’s rules on free throw violations:
A player who occupies a free throw lane space shall not touch the floor on or across the free throw lane line…if the violation is by the offense, no point can be scored. The ball is awarded out-of-bounds to the opposing team at the free throw line extended.
So it should have been Phoenix ball, down 114-112 with 14.1 seconds remaining. That’s plenty of time to run a few sets for an open look at any shot. Instead, the Suns had to attempt a three-pointer. Dragon even got a good look at it, but it came up short.
Still, if it had been a 2-point game at that point, Dragon might have scooted into the lane and gotten fouled or finished closer to the rim, tying the game.
Brain fart by the refs here, and Phoenix argued to have the point taken away before they got the ball back, but no soup. Dragic’s career-night was partially ruined by a missed call, and definitely by a missed game-tying three-pointer.
(video via Frank Den)
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