USA Today Images

Rockets Need To Get Over The Officiating

Not beating Warriors if they can't get out of their own heads

April 30, 2019 - 1:24 pm
Categories: 

Philadelphia and Toronto played last night. So did Denver and Portland. And normally, either one of them would be the biggest story, but this isn’t normal. Because Game 2 of Rockets v. Warriors is tonight. And right now, that is blotting out the sun.

Not the matchup, but the officiating of the matchup. This is the Toby in Houston Series. Three of the key players are Toby Fans – Kevin Durant.

Chris Paul.

And of course, Andrew Bogut.

We should be talking about that. We should be talking about how Houston responds to what Kevin Durant was doing offensively in Game 1. Or whether Steph Curry will be healthier in this game. Or what adjustments the Warriors make to Eric Gordon. Or how James Harden gets his groove back.

But instead, we are talking about the officiating. And if you thought the ref talk after Game 1 was bad, it’s only hit new heights. There was Steve Kerr showing up at his media session yesterday and trying to draw a foul.

That is some quality trolling. And then there was Daryl Morey tweeting out a link to Steve Kerr complaining about officiating in the past. More quality trolling.

The Rockets are bent about the officiating. And according to an ESPN report from yesterday, they worked up a report to send to the league that lists 81 calls, non-calls, and violations that they believe cost them the game.

Except it wasn’t from Sunday’s game. It was from last year’s series. It wasn’t Game 1 of the 2019 series, it was Game 7 of the 2018 series. May 28th.

Houston worked up a memo outlining all the calls that were made and shouldn’t have, and the ones that weren’t made and should have been made. They didn’t send the memo, but it ultimately got out yesterday. And it includes an excerpt like this:  "Referees likely changed the eventual NBA champion. There can be no worse result for the NBA."

So according to the report, the referees cost the Rockets Game 7 last year. And the wrong team won the title. Again, the refs changed the outcome of the game and the eventual champion, in a game Houston lost by nine points. At home. 

This is a big Rockets house. I have a ton of respect for Daryl Morey and what he’s done. James Harden is one of the best players in the history of the NBA. PJ Tucker is awesome.

But this is not awesome. This is terrible. Honestly, it’s embarrassing. I know everyone tries to work the refs. That’s part of the game, but living with results is also part of the game and so is actually playing the game. And if you’re working up reports on 81 different calls in a game and saying that the referees “likely changed the eventual NBA champion,” that is a terrible look.

That sounds like message board rant, not a factual argument. Come on, Houston. You’re better than that. You think the Warriors don’t have a list of a dozen or two calls that they would like to see go differently? And the Bucks? And Celtics. And every team.

That’s part of the game. And it sucks. But you have to get over it. You have to get over it from last year and you have to get over it from Sunday.

And I certainly wouldn’t advise having reports “leak” out where you appear to be attempting to shame or bully the league when it comes to refereeing. Again, I get it. You came this close to a spot in the NBA Finals and it sucks to lose the way that you did. But what’s next? The Jazz coming up with a memo and video breakdown of MJ pushing off on Bryon Russell back in 1998?

Again, working the refs is part of the game. Phil Jackson did it. Pat Riley did it. Everyone does it. But this isn’t just working the refs, this is challenging their integrity and the league’s integrity. And it almost sounds like a conspiracy theory.

Who knows, it might work. In fact, there’s a pretty good chance it will, but if it does work, it’s a horrible statement. Because then every team will be putting together powerpoint presentations about how they were jobbed.  And again, I understand working the refs.  I understand selling a call.  But there’s selling a call, and flailing and flopping like you were tased every time there’s incidental contact. 

And everyone starts doing it, and why wouldn’t they if it works for Houston, then every series will be ruined as a result. This is the series we’ve been looking forward to all season. We should be talking about the players, not the refs.

I can’t imagine Adam Silver is too pumped about having one of the teams in the league handle their business this way. But what can the league do?

Well, there is this: the announcement of the referees for tonight’s game. Because that’s kind of an issue now. And if you’re into conspiracy theories, and judging by Twitter, a hell of a lot of you are, there was the possibility of a certain ref working Game 2.

So, for the first time in history, people were really paying attention to the announcement of the officiating crew. And here it is.

Alvin, give me some intro music. Hit me with some Alan Parsons Project, because these guys are the biggest story tonight.

Here is your starting lineup for the Game 2 of the 2019 Western Conference playoff series between the Houston Rockets and the Golden State Warriors. 

Number 42, in his 15th season out of Bethune Cookman….Eric Lewis

Number 14, in his 17th season out of Philadelphia University…Ed Malloy

And the man in the middle, in his 25th season, from the University of Maryland…SCOTT FOSTER!

Oh….hell….yes. Scott Freaking Foster.

The same Scott Foster who Chris Paul and James Harden have an ongoing feud with. Paul and Harden fouled out of the last Rockets game that Foster reffed.

Chris Paul said after that game that he has met with the league about Scott Foster. James Harden called Scott Foster “rude and arrogant” after that game.

And now he is working tonight’s game. You have a brief or a dossier you want to give to us? Well, we have a ref we want to give to you: Scott Freaking Foster.

The conspiracy theorists would tell you the league is punching back at the Rockets for the dossier. The experts would tell you that the assignments are made before the series starts and it’s not a response to the dossier or Game 1.

The facts tell you that Scott Foster is reffing tonight and it doesn’t matter how he got there. He’s there now.  Here he is.  Here the bleep he is.

He had been off for a few days, resting, waiting, biding his time. And now he descends on Oracle tonight.

If it wasn’t in Houston’s heads before, it is now. Scott Foster just showed up with a U-Haul and he’s unpacking his stuff and moving right in their domes.  If you want to tell me tonight is a must-win game for the Rockets, I’m going to argue with you, because as good as they are, they’re not beating Golden State four times in five games; not if they can’t get out of their own heads.