SAN ANTONIO – The Spurs-Rockets double overtime thriller Tuesday night at the AT&T Center featured a combined 268 points scored between both teams, but afterward, much of Houston’s focus was on two points that didn’t count in their loss to San Antonio.
Game officials erased a James Harden dunk with 7:53 remaining in the fourth quarter and Houston leading 102-89.
Officials initially ruled the ball didn’t clear the cylinder. After the game, crew chief James Capers said “in fact it (the ball) did clear the net and should have been a successful field goal.”
#NBA refs were asked about James Harden dunk after #Spurs win..basically said it should’ve counted..but #Rockets spent too much time PROTESTING call so the 30-second window Houston had to ask for an official review passed and refs stood w/call on floor. pic.twitter.com/jWLfmh7d23— RJ Marquez (@KSATRJ) December 4, 2019
Capers said the Rockets did not ask for a review within the 30-second window that coaches can challenge calls, during which time they were arguing and asking for clarification. The Spurs outscored Houston 26-13 after the call and forced overtime.
After the game, ESPN.com’s Tim MacMahon reported the Rockets were “optimistic” the league would either award Houston the win outright or order that the final 7:50 of the game be replayed at a later date.
A Rockets source is optimistic that the NBA office will take action regarding James Harden's dunk that didn't count, either awarding the win to Houston or ordering that the final 7:50 be replayed because the Rockets outscored the Spurs in regulation. The Rockets believe a...— Tim MacMahon (@espn_macmahon) December 4, 2019
ESPN followed that report on Wednesday morning, indicating league officials had “scoffed” at the Rockets suggestion or request. There has been no other comment from the league.
The call was just one of several wild moments throughout the contest.
The Spurs trailed by as many as 22 points in the second half, but rallied behind a guard heavy lineup and center Jakob Poeltl, who grabbed 15 rebounds and added five blocks.
Second-year guard Lonnie Walker IV scored 28 points off the bench for the Spurs, including eight straight in the final two minutes to send the game into the first overtime.
All of Walker’s points came in the second half. Harden finished with 50 points, including 24 made free throws.
The Spurs ultimately outlasted the Rockets 135-133 to improve to 8-14. San Antonio hosts Sacramento on Friday night.
Below is Capers full explanation of what occurred:
Q: Why did James Harden’s dunk not count as a reviewable play?
“Alright, when the play happened, (James) Harden goes in for a dunk, and then the ball appears to us to pop back through the net. When that happens, that is basket interference. To have a successful field goal, it must clear the net. We have since come in here and looked at the play. He dunked it so hard that the net carried it back over the rim a second time, so in fact it did clear the net and should have been a successful field goal.
“As to could the play have been reviewed, it is a reviewable matter, but 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. So therefore, it elapsed, and they were not able to do it.”
Q: Did they attempt to ask for a review?
“They were asking later at the end of the timeout is it a reviewable matter, but it was too late.”
Q: Did you explain to them that it was too late?
“I can’t remember if I told them or not. I just told them what we had as a ruling on the floor.”
Below are 3 takeaways from the game: Lonnie Walker arrives, Jakob defends paint, Harden (non) dunk controversy