James Harden went for 57 points (ridiculously not a season high) including two heroic threes in the closing minutes of overtime. Those pulled the Rockets within two points, which led to a calamity of errors at the close of the game.
While coming down the court up by two Delon Wright dribbled the ball into Clint Capela’s foot. The call should have been a kickball, but the refs kept quiet. A noted soccer fan Capela’s foot unintentionally ricocheted the ball right to Harden who walked it to the hoop for two points and a tie game.
Then this happened:
Is Valanciunas over the back here or not? It's a tough call.— ClutchFans (@clutchfans) March 21, 2019
Brutal whistle on Clint with 0.1 seconds left though. It decided the game. pic.twitter.com/VkjraUpBxe
I’d predict the two minute report says there was an over-the-back foul on Jonas Valanciunas. But also that it was a foul on Capela.
The NBA standard is neither of these are called with a tie game in the closing second of overtime.
At the free throw line Valanciunas capped the best night of his career by sinking a game winning free throw.
In reality it never should have come to this. Memphis is an NBA bottom dweller interested in rebuilding, but Houston played down to their competition. At one point Houston trailed by 17 points with only three turnovers. How is that even possible?
Rockets Twitter is correct to point out the foul call decided the game. But the Rockets put themselves in that spot with three quarters and an overtime of lackluster play.
Let’s go back to Jonas Valanciunas... If you were watching your first ever NBA game you would have thought nothing is more important than being the largest man on the floor. Harden went for 57, but Jonas dropped 33 and 15 with ease. He outmuscled every Rocket for five offensive rebounds and was nine of nine from the field at one point.
The Rockets never intended to play Nene Hilario, but the tandem of Valanciunas and Joakim Noah were dominating Clint Capela and PJ Tucker, who was summoned into backup center minutes. Nene’s entry did nothing to reroute the game, but just stressed how oddly overmatched Capela was on the defensive end this evening.
Did I mention Harden went for 57?
The memory of this game will be the foul call. The impact of this game may be playoff seeding. Houston currently sits in third with just a one game advantage on the Portland Trailblazers.