The Rockets aren’t ready to accept their defeat to the Spurs on Tuesday night, during which referees erroneously ruled Houston star James Harden missed a dunk despite the ball going through the net.
According to multiple reports from Houston media Thursday, the Rockets will file a protest with the league on the grounds the call was a “misapplication of rules” and claim that officials didn’t allow the team to challenge the call.
Referee James Capers, who was the crew chief for Tuesday’s contest, confirmed to reporters after the game that the officials missed the call, but he added that Houston coach Mike D’Antoni didn’t request a review of the play until after the 30-second window teams have to challenge a call had closed.
The would-be dunk occurred with 7:50 remaining in regulation and the Rockets leading 102-89. San Antonio erased a six-point deficit in the final minute to force overtime, and a Harden offensive foul with less than a second left in the second overtime sealed Houston’s loss.
NBA teams filed fewer than 35 protests between 1952 and 2014, according to USA Today, and just three were upheld. No teams have won a protest in the past five seasons.
This is not the first time the Rockets have gone to the league office with complaints about officiating. It was reported during the offseason that the organization submitted a memo to the NBA “auditing” referees’ work during the 2018 playoffs, a move that was widely mocked.