The Houston Rockets loss against the San Antonio Spurs has officially gone final, one week later. According to multiple sources, Houston’s protest of the game has been denied by the NBA. The Rockets decided to protest the game after a dunk by James Harden with 7:50 remaining in the fourth quarter was taken off the board when the referee deemed it did not fully go through the net. If the dunk had counted, Houston would have taken a 104-89 lead. They went on to lose the game 135-133 in double-overtime.
The play was never reviewed because Houston head coach Mike D’Antoni missed the 30-second window to issue a coach’s challenge, according to James Capers who was the crew chief in charge of the game. After the game, Capers acknowledged the dunk should have counted for two points.
“While agreeing that the referees misapplied the rules, Commissioner Silver determined that the Rockets had sufficient time to overcome the error during the remainder of the fourth quarter and two subsequent overtime periods,” the ruling stated.
In their appeal, Houston contended that Harden’s dunk not being counted was a misapplication of rules resulting in an incorrect score and not a judgment by a call of officials. Commissioner Silver’s ruling agrees with the Rockets’ claim that the referee did misapply the rules.
In addition to the loss, the Rockets also had to pay a $10,000 protest fee to the league for filing. Next time, James might be more careful the next time he goes in for an uncontested dunk.
Players React To Missed Call
Harden’s teammates couldn’t believe that the refs missed the call. A few days later at a charity event, Rockets guard Austin Rivers said he wanted the game to be replayed at a later date.
”That was ridiculous,” Austin Rivers said. “I don’t know how they didn’t see it. I saw it. That’s their job. The refs, you got one thing to do, watch the ball go through the hoop. Hopefully, we can run that back.”
The History of NBA Protests
They don’t happen often. According to USA Today, the NBA has granted a protest just three times — a game between the Nets and Sixers during the 1978-79 season; 1982-83 between the Lakers and Spurs and 2007-08 between the Hawks and Heat. All of those games were replayed from the point of contention.
The Nets-Sixers game might have been the strangest, which was replayed from the middle of the third quarter. Between the date of the original game and the makeup game, three players were traded to the other side and ended up in the box score for both teams.
The most recent protest was filed by the Sacramento Kings in a loss to the Memphis Grizzlies in 2014. That protest was also denied by Silver. Since 1986, just one protest out of 14 has been granted by the league.
“Given the high standard of proof that a team must meet to have a protest sustained, I think our teams just decided that filing a likely losing protest was not a good use of time and resources,” former NBA Commissioner David Stern told USA Today in 2014.
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