The Oklahoma City Thunder cut their deficit against the Houston Rockets in half on Saturday night, picking up a 119-107 win that put their opening round series at 2-1 in Houston’s favor. Chris Paul had an excellent game, but one moment that occurred in overtime has drawn the ire of a number of individuals from his former team.
Paul was being checked by Ben McLemore. In an attempt to get past the Houston guard, he shot his right arm out and, well, this happened.
This is the play Harden and D'Antoni wanted reviewed but the officials would not do it. Chris Paul, inadvertent or not, gives a shot to Ben McLemore in the wrong place. pic.twitter.com/CU5RvLKzhK
— ClutchFans (@clutchfans) August 23, 2020
The Rockets were visibly displeased with the officials’ decision to not review what appeared to be Paul hitting McLemore below the belt. As a college student at Wake Forest, Paul once infamously hit an opposing player below the belt, and as he claimed after the game, he did not do this to McLemore on purpose.
Chris Paul on his low blow on Ben McLemore: “I tried to get by him. It was incidental. I know when I did it on purpose. That was in college. That was a long time ago.” Says he checked on McLeMore, who said he was fine.
— Brett Dawson (@BDawsonWrites) August 23, 2020
Chris Paul on hitting Ben McLemore below the belt: “I tried to get by him. It was incidental. I know when I did it on purpose, that was in college. That was a long time ago. I checked on Ben, he said he was fine. I know Mike. He's gonna get mad, he's gonna yell and scream."
— Royce Young (@royceyoung) August 23, 2020
Paul was correct: Rockets head coach Mike D’Antoni was not happy about the referee’s lack of a look into all of this. D’Antoni spoke to the media after the game and was confused as to the lack of a review on this one.
Mike D’Antoni remains … displeased at the lack of a replay of Chris Paul getting tangled up with Ben McLemore late in OKC’s win over Houston: pic.twitter.com/REzMvuBUk1
— Tim Bontemps (@TimBontemps) August 23, 2020
The sentiment was shared by James Harden, who was careful to say that while he did not know if this was malicious, he really wanted to know why the referees did not look into what happened.
Rockets’ James Harden on below-the-belt shot by Thunder’s Chris Paul: “I don’t know what it was [intentional or not] but it should have been reviewed, especially if somebody gets hit in their private area. We ain’t got nowhere to go. It wasn’t [reviewed] & I don’t know why not.” pic.twitter.com/KXlQa1Glgu
— Ben Golliver (@BenGolliver) August 23, 2020
The Rockets and Thunder will square off against one another in Game 4 on Monday afternoon. The game tips off at 4 p.m. EST on TNT.