The referees admitted James Harden’s dunk should have counted in Houston’s loss to the Spurs on Dec. 3. The NBA admitted the officiating crew didn’t follow the proper procedure for a coach’s challenge. Everyone knew the basket should have been allowed.
But none of that matters now because the final result isn’t changing. The NBA announced Monday that it has denied the Rockets’ protest of the game following a full investigation.
In a statement released by the league, commissioner Adam Silver agreed the referees misapplied the rules on the play, which happened with less than eight minutes remaining in the fourth quarter and Houston leading by 13 points. The Spurs mounted a comeback to tie the Rockets before the end of regulation, ultimately defeating Houston in a double-overtime thriller by a final score of 135-133. In the Rockets’ eyes, those missing two points cost them a win.
So why didn’t Silver side with the Rockets? Because they blew all of their chances to close it out after that call, essentially.
“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 and thus the extraordinary remedy of granting a game protest was not warranted,” the NBA’s statement said.
The league also announced it had disciplined all three referees in that game for misapplying the coach’s challenge rule. The officating crew denied Mike D’Antoni’s challenge because the 30-second time limit from the start of the timeout had ended, but that limit is only enforced following a mandatory timeout or timeout called by the opposing team.
Since the Rockets called for a timeout, the challenge request should have been granted.
“As a follow-up to the NBA’s investigation of this matter, the NBA will work with the competition committee to develop additional procedures to help prevent the situation with Harden’s made basket from occurring again,” the league’s statement said.