The Rockets Hope The NBA Does Something About James Harden’s Controversial Dunk Against The Spurs

The Houston Rockets blew a 22-point lead to the San Antonio Spurs on Tuesday night, which led to the Spurs picking up a thrilling double overtime victory. But one moment during the fourth quarter has the Rockets organization justifiably upset, and if they have their way, the NBA will do something to remedy the situation.

James Harden dunked with just under eight minutes left in the frame, and were it to have counted, Houston would have stretched its lead to 15. But the dunk rolled awkwardly out of the bottom of the net, bounced back up onto the rim, and looked like it might have been a miss. Harden and Mike D’Antoni, as you might imagine, were not happy with this.

Considering how San Antonio stormed back to force overtime and win the game, and the referees admitted after the game that they got this one wrong, this was legitimately a missed call that you can argue played a role in swinging the outcome of a game. And seeing as how no team is more willing to voice their grievances over the role officiating plays in effecting wins and losses than Houston, it should come as no surprise to know they want the NBA to remedy this. In face, according to Tim MacMahon of ESPN, the team is “optimistic” this will happen.

The Rockets are hopeful the league office will either award the victory to Houston due to the Rockets outscoring the Spurs in regulation or order that the final 7 minutes, 50 seconds be replayed at a later date, sources said.

League sources, however, scoffed at suggestions the Rockets would be awarded the victory.

D’Antoni explained what happened with the dunk after the game. Basically, while it was a play he could have challenged, he did not do that quick enough and missed his window.

“I heard that they said the ball hit James and went back through, so it was a goaltend on James,” D’Antoni said. “I challenged that, and I didn’t get a response. Then another guy said it wasn’t a goaltend; it went out of bounds on us. And I said, ‘Well, I challenge that.’ Can’t do that. You know, I don’t know, to answer your question. I’ve got nothing. I can’t tell you.”

The crew chief working the game, James Capers, explained that while the dunk should have counted, “you have a window of 30 seconds to challenge the play during that timeout that he had and while they were protesting the call, trying to get clarification of it, that window passed.”

It’s a weird situation, one that shows a gigantic hole in the league’s current challenge rule. Plus if there’s any team in the league that would go all-out in response to this, it would be the Rockets — as previously mentioned, the team infamously presented the NBA with evidence that showed how referees impacted playoff games between themselves and the Golden State Warriors. The incident against San Antonio happened on a much smaller scale, but it’s more blatant than crunching the numbers based on reports sent out by the league.

Of course, missing this doesn’t excuse blowing a 22-point lead to a sub-.500 team. But in a game where two points could have swung things in a different direction, a missed call is huge, and now, the attention turns to the league and its potential response to all of this.