As you know, and as you’ve heard about a million times by now, one of the worst calls (actually, lack of call) happened the last time that the Rockets faced the Spurs.
The refs really didn't count this Harden dunk pic.twitter.com/tkpFWpqu9f— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) December 4, 2019
Not only was that an embarrassing call by the refs, but — let’s be honest — it was an absolute embarrassing display for the Rockets to let the lowly (yes, “lowly.” You can quote me on that) then 7-14 Spurs come back from down 16 in the quarter. Instead of blowing out your in-state, division rival, you allow Lonnie Walker IV, of all people, to go off on you in the fourth quarter and rack up a career-high 28-points to break your heart in double overtime.
Before their win against the Rockets on Dec. 3, the Spurs won two of their previous 13 games; three of their previous 16 if you want to really drag it out more. The Rockets — a team that should blowing the doors off this San Antonio squad — gave their franchise-long rival a sliver of hope in their first dismal season in like nine decades. After the game, Gregg Popovich had the audacity to say, “...this is the team that we think we have, we just got to play like this consistently and we haven’t really done that,” which is just a ridiculous statement.
So you think the team that you are is having *Stephen A. Smith voice* LONNIE WALKER score 19 in the fourth quarter to drag you back from a 16-point deficit after being down double-digits all game? Houston should have never given them the chance to have that horrible sound bite.
Then, to add insult to injury, the league takes nearly a week to respond to your protest of this clearly blown call, all to tell you that, “nah, we’ll pass on this one, chief.” Their reasoning? Well, they feel like the Rockets had enough time to atone for those missed two points. Never mind the actual fact that you weren’t awarded two points, a made basket, an easy dunk to score — the league doesn’t care if the most important part of the game is accounted for.
This is just a ridiculous assessment on the lack of ability for a professional to do their job in an organization worth billions of dollars. That can’t happen.
Both the missed call and the loss should have never happened.
Still, the Rockets can’t undo that call or undo the awkward dunk, and they definitely can’t RE-do the game — as made clear by the league. But they can make a clear statement here. They can show that the loss was a fluke and not “actually the team they have.” The Houston Rockets, for the first time in a long time, can make it clear that they are in a different tier with superstar-tier players, and they should have never needed those two points to beat the Spurs.
It doesn’t look like it will be close either. Houston’s stars are really starting to mesh, and that’s a bad thing for opponents.
For one, Russell Westbrook is currently in his best stretch of the season. The triple-double king looks back to his MVP ways, averaging 27 points, 8 rebounds, and 8.3 assists on 58% shooting the past three games. He’s also taking only 3.7 threes a game and knocking down 1.3 of them for a cool 36.4%.
After some really light scoring games for James Harden, averaging a measly 28 PPG from Dec. 5 to Dec. 9, he broke out for 55 against the Cleveland Cavaliers on a crazy-efficient 20-34 shooting from the field and 10-18 from behind the arc. Oh, and he did it while taking only five free-throws in the game. It’s a far cry from the record-breaking 24-24 free-throwing shooting Harden had against the Spurs their last meeting.
Let’s be clear here too: the Rockets should, by no means, be concerned about any rivalry game with the 12th-place Spurs. But they have too much bulletin board material that would say otherwise. If they want to feel better about the blown call, the petition denial, and losing to a team they should be demolishing, this is their chance to do so. Visit Stubhub to reserve your seat for the game.
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