Down 107-104, with five seconds remaining in last night’s Knicks-Rockets opener during TNT’s Thursday night doubleheader, Carmelo Anthony was fouled early by James Harden to prevent any chance for the Knicks to tie. Except, ‘Melo was fouled in what appeared to be a shooting motion, and he actually hit the 3-pointer!
There are two sides to the debate when a team is down three with less than 24 seconds left in the game. Some believe you foul the other team and don’t give them a chance to tie the game. Some believe it’s safer to avoid the foul because you open yourself up to a 4-point play and the loss. Spurs coach Gregg Popovich falls into the latter category, but many criticized him for his decision not to foul when up three against the Heat late in game 6 of the 2013 NBA Finals. We all know what happened next.
But Rockets coach Kevin McHale decided to go ahead and foul on the floor last night after going up three with just five seconds remaining. On the ensuing inbounds, ‘Melo curled towards the sideline and turned to shoot the moment he caught the ball â€” guessing the foul was coming quickly from his defender, James Harden. If you look at the play in question, Harden does appear to slap ‘Melo before he gets into his shooting motion, but also fouls him while he’s in the shooting motion.
The whistle comes late enough on the play you half-expect the refs to give the 3-point bucket to ‘Melo with a chance to secure the lead on the free throw line. But because the referees claim the foul was on the floor â€” and Harden does slap him before the shot â€” ‘Melo only received two free throws.
Anthony was hot all night, going 17-for-30 from the field for a season-high 45 points. Perhaps because he was shooting so well, when he attempted to miss his second free throw on purpose, it still found its way through the hoop. The Rockets got the ball back after the make, hit two free throws, and a last-second heave from J.R. Smith bounced impotently off the backboard as time expired.
After the game, ‘Melo was a little churlish about all the calls for James Harden, and the lack of calls when he was getting banged on the block:
Asked if it was tough that the Knicks sent Harden to the line often when they got close, Anthony replied, “We didn’t put him on the line, they put him on the line.”
“You look at that, you see the way that some guys get their calls,” Anthony said, “and for me, I’ve got to get cut, you’ve got to see blood for me to get a call down there. So that’s where the frustration comes from.”
Anthony was getting hit on some drives to the hoop, and that’s without mentioning the 4-point play that could have been, but Harden was getting to the free throw line by forcing the action, and the Knicks couldn’t stay in front of him. Anthony might have deserved more calls, but that’s why you play the game.
Should ‘Melo gotten an opportunity for a 4-point play?
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