- In the fourth quarter of a double-overtime loss to the San Antonio Spurs, James Harden threw down a dunk that spun through the net, back onto the rim, and away.
- Referees ruled it a miss and didn’t review the play, but they acknowledged afterward that the dunk should have counted.
- The Rockets now want the NBA to either award them the victory because the dunk would mean they outscored the Spurs in regulation or let the two teams replay the final 7:50 of the game.
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The Houston Rockets want the NBA to reverse the outcome of their double-overtime loss to the San Antonio Spurs on Tuesday after referees acknowledged missing a dunk by James Harden.
Harden threw down a fast-break dunk in the fourth quarter, but the ball spun through the net and then went back on the rim and bounced away. Harden thought he missed the dunk initially and chased after the ball, which the Spurs retrieved.
The Rockets called a timeout and argued about the play, but the referees ruled the dunk a miss.
Here’s the play:
The referee James Capers told a pool reporter after the game that the officials initially thought the ball popped out of the basket because it hit Harden on the way down. That would have been basket interference, and the basket wouldn’t have counted.
The officials later realised that the ball actually did go through the net. Capers said that while the play was reviewable and could have been challenged, there is only a 30-second window to officially challenge it, and Rockets head coach Mike D’Antoni missed the window to challenge.
Transcript: NBA Referee James Capers Comments to Pool Reporter after Rockets – Spurs game. pic.twitter.com/rVD6HF9Tca
— NBA Official (@NBAOfficial) December 4, 2019
D’Antoni said after the game, however, that he tried to challenge and didn’t receive a response.
“I heard that they said the ball hit James and went back through, so it was a goaltend on James. I challenged that, and I didn’t get a response,” D’Antoni said. “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 Spurs outscored the Rockets 26-13 over the remainder of the fourth quarter after Harden’s dunk. The Rockets went on to lose, 135-133, in double overtime.
According to ESPN’s Tim MacMahon, the Rockets are “optimistic” either that the NBA will give them the win because the dunk would mean they outscored the Spurs in regulation or that the league will let them replay the final 7 minutes, 50 seconds to decide a new winner.
MacMahon reported that league sources “scoffed” at the idea that they would award the Rockets the victory.
According to ESPN, the most recent game to be replayed was March 8, 2008, between the Miami Heat and the Atlanta Hawks. The Hawks won, but the referees incorrectly ruled that Shaquille O’Neal had fouled out with 51.9 seconds remaining. The two teams later replayed the final 51.9 seconds, and the Hawks won.