Houston Rockets (cheap Houston Rockets championship rings) guard James Harden pleaded for a "fair chance" from officials after Houston's 104-100 loss to the Golden State Warriors in Sunday's Game 1 of the Western Conference semifinals. Harden and the Rockets were specifically upset about what they believed were several incorrect non-calls on his 3-point attempts, on which the Warriors were allowed to close out without giving Harden the required landing space. According to Harden and coach Mike D'Antoni, the referees admitted at halftime that they missed four such calls in the first half. "I'm going to try to be a nice guy because I really don't want to give the charity to them. I'd rather have my charity have the money," D'Antoni said, referring to a potential fine for criticizing officiating. "So, I mean, the response was they came in halftime and said they missed them. That's what they told me. They missed four of them. That's 12 foul shots. So be it. They're trying to do the best they can do." Harden also thought he got fouled on a pair of 3-point attempts in the second half, including by Draymond Green on a potential game-tying attempt with 7.4 seconds remaining. Klay Thompson was the defender on the other non-calls that upset the Rockets. "I mean, I just want a fair chance, man," said Harden, who scored 35 points but was 9-of-28 from the floor and 4-of-16 from behind the 3-point line. "Call the game how it's supposed to be called, and that's it. And I'll live with the results."
Joe Borgia, the NBA's (cheap nba championship rings) senior vice president of replay and referee operations, later told NBA TV that Green did not foul Harden on his last 3 attempt because Green was going across, not into, Harden's path, and Harden "jackknifed" his body so his feet made contact with Green. Harden was 13-of-14 from the line, but the Warriors were called for only one foul when he attempted a 3-pointer. That occurred in the first quarter, when Harden's shooting arm was clearly hit by Golden State forward Alfonzo McKinnie. Harden referenced the series-ending injury suffered by Kawhi Leonard in the San Antonio Spurs' Game 1 loss to the Warriors in the 2017 Western Conference finals, on which he landed on Zaza Pachulia's foot after shooting a jumper, as a reason referees need to be vigilant about enforcing the rule requiring 3-point shooters to have space to land.
"We all know what happened a few years back with Kawhi," Harden said. "That can change the entire series. Just call the game the way it's supposed to be called, and we'll live with the results. It's plain and simple." Rockets guard Chris Paul and D'Antoni were called for technical fouls for protesting a non-call after Paul made a 3 with 35.4 seconds remaining in the third quarter. They were irate that Golden State guard Shaun Livingston was not whistled for not allowing Paul any landing space. "To shoot a 3-and-1, get a tech, I mean, it's tough," Paul said. "But I gotta be smarter because that didn't do nothing but hurt our team." Paul was ejected after receiving his second technical foul with 4.4 seconds remaining. He appeared to make contact with referee Josh Tiven. Asked about the incident, Paul said, "I ain't seen it yet." Team sources believe that any contact between Paul and Tiven was minimal and inadvertent and should not merit any discipline from the league office. Harden, who has led the league in free throws attempted and made in each of the past five seasons, gets fouled while shooting 3s far more than any other player in the league, in large part because his step-back is so difficult to contest without making contact.
According to ESPN Stats & Information research, officials called fouls on Harden 3s 95 times during the regular season and five times in the Rockets' five-game first-round series against the Utah Jazz. "All I'm going to say is we've been getting [those calls] all year," said Rockets guard Eric Gordon, who had 27 points. "It should be no different now." During the second half, Jazz center Rudy Gobert chimed in via Twitter on the inconsistency in how Harden was being officiated.
"There was this guy named Michael, I can't remember his last name," the Golden State (Golden State Warriors championship rings) coach cracked in reference to former Bulls teammate Michael Jordan. Kevin Durant is having a superb postseason run of his own. Durant scored 35 points in outdueling James Harden and the Warriors held off the Houston Rockets 104-100 on Sunday in the opener of what is shaping up to be a sensational best-of-seven Western Conference semifinal. "When he's being as aggressive as he's been, I don't think there's anyone in the NBA, maybe the world who can stop him," Draymond Green said of the two-time reigning NBA Finals MVP.
Houston's (championship rings for sale) Chris Paul was ejected with 4.4 seconds left for a second technical, though he said afterward he wasn't sure what he did wrong -- and he wouldn't say whether he made contact with official Josh Tiven while arguing. "I don't know yet. Nobody told me. He just called a tech," said Paul, who had rebounded a missed 3-pointer by Harden that could have tied the game with 9 seconds left and was arguing for a foul. Green added 14 points, nine assists and nine rebounds for the two-time defending champion Warriors, who are meeting the Rockets in the postseason for the fourth time in five years, with Houston having never been victorious. Game 2 is Tuesday night back at Oracle Arena. Harden scored 35 points and Eric Gordon 27 after both struggled early. The Rockets shot 14 for 47 from long range.
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