Klay Thompson and Clint Capela


The Rockets Have A Point About The Refs

But they shouldn't have melted down like they did.

April 29, 2019 - 9:31 am

So I guess we’re going to have to talk about the refs. There’s no way that we can’t, not when being techincals are being handed out and Chris Paul is being ejected, and not when that’s the only thing Houston was talking about after the game.

And here’s the thing: I’m always the first guy to say that if you’re talking about the refs, you lost. And the Rockets did lose and they were talking about the refs, except this time, they actually have a point.

Not to go all Gene Steratore on you, because no one can; my man is a icon. But I don’t need to be Gene Steratore to know that refs did not have a good day in this one, at all. Especially when it comes to the closeouts on three pointers. If the league had gone too far in one direction in the past, calling even the slightest contact on a closeout or the slightest interference in a landing zone, yesterday’s refs gunned the engine and floored it in the opposite direction. In fact, there were times yesterday where it seemed like anything goes on closeouts.

And no, I’m not going to go all-Zapruder film on it and run back every single call and no call. You can do that in your own free time. Do that slow enough and you’ll find a foul on every play.

But I will say this: the refs blew a bunch of calls. Not my words, their words, reportedly. The referees told Houston at halftime that they missed four fouls in the first half.

And as you’ve no doubt heard by now, the Rockets were bent about it. I mean, you don’t have to be a great lip-reader to know they thought it was bull-bleep during the game and they were still bent afterwards.

Mike D’Antoni said "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. 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."

Yeah, doesn’t sound like he’s okay with the refs “trying to do the best they can do,” and I know James Harden’s not.

“What can I do about it? I was told the same thing at the half," said Harden. "And it’s probably a couple more in the second half. I mean, I just want a fair chance, man. Call the game how it’s supposed to be called and that’s it. And I’ll live with the results. But especially we all know what happened a few years back with Kawhi (Leonard). 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.”

And I know a lot of you hate James Harden and hate his game, and you think it’s pretty rich that he would complain about getting a fair chance on fouls, when allegedly all he does is just draw fouls and get to the line and play the wrong way. And there is no denying that he’s a man of many skills and one of those skills is drawing contact and getting to the foul line.

But he has a point, because there were a bunch of calls that weren’t made yesterday that have been made all season long.

The league has made safe landing spots a priority in recent years. And when you’re used to seeing something called one way and then it suddenly isn’t, you’re going to be pissed.

But then it became a problem. Because it got into Houston’s head. The refs may have been swallowing their whistles, but the Rockets were letting that infect their domes. They let it get to them. You can’t do that. I know how frustrating it is, and it’s really easy for me to say sitting here, but you’ve got to rise above it.

But they didn’t. When they weren’t getting calls, Harden and Paul started to kick out and hit the deck even more. The idea was to make the contact look worse and draw the foul. The result was to make themselves look worse and look like floppers. It’s a vicious cycle. Don’t get calls, exaggerate contact more to get calls, look like a flopper, so you really don’t get the calls.

Here’s the thing about yesterday’s refs; they may have been horrible, but they were consistent. Like on James Harden's late attempt at the tie. 

Yes, there’s contact. Is it contact from Green going into Harden’s landing space? Or Harden kicking his legs out at Green? Honestly, it doesn’t matter. Because that hasn’t been called all game. So it shouldn’t be called there. 

And the Rockets sure as hell can’t melt down the way that they did after that no-call. Chris Paul cannot be getting a second technical and getting ejected there. I don’t know how much contact he really made with the ref, but he can’t even be close. You simply cannot do that in that situation. Not in a one-possession game, not when there’s still time left on the clock, not when you have the chance to rip homecourt.

And not when the Warriors have been turning the ball over the way that they have and the way that they did on the previous possession. I’m not going to say the Warriors weren’t going to win in that moment, but Chris Paul gave them a free point and made damn sure that they did. 

But the Rockets were pissed. And they weren’t alone. Jazz big man Rudy Gobert had thoughts, and he has a twitter account:

But Draymond Green isn’t having any of that either.  

That is one hell of a line.

And now we have one hell of a mystery. What the hell happened in Game 1? Why did referees, who’ve been calling those landing spot fouls for a while now, suddenly stop? And more importantly, what’s going to happen in Game 2?

How much is Game 1 going to impact the refs in Game 2? And how much is it going to impact the Rockets in Game 2? Are they getting in the refs heads or are too far into their own?