NBA referees admit that James Harden got away with a travel

NBA officials did the unthinkable on Tuesday.

They acknowledged that James Harden traveled. And they admitted that they missed it.

Gasp!

Key call in Rockets win over Jazz

The infraction in question occurred late during the Houston Rockets’ 102-97 win over the Utah Jazz on Monday.

With less than a minute remaining, Harden pulled off a variation of his signature step-back move that saw him take well over his allotment of steps after picking up his dribble.

Whistle for Rubio, not for Harden

He pulled up for a 3-pointer and drew a whistle after Jazz guard Ricky Rubio hit him on the elbow. The call, of course, was on Rubio. The blatant traveling violation prior to the shot was ignored.

Harden proceeded to hit 2-of-3 free throws to extend the Rockets lead to 99-94. Had the correct call been made, the Jazz would have been awarded the ball trailing 97-94 with a little less than a minute remaining in the game, which presents an entirely different end-of-game scenario.

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James Harden through his career
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James Harden through his career
Apr 2, 2014; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Houston Rockets guard James Harden (13) goes to the basket and scores against Toronto Raptors forward Patrick Patterson (54) and center Jonas Valanciunas (17) at Air Canada Centre. Mandatory Credit: Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports
NEW YORK - JUNE 25: James Harden poses for a portrait prior to the 2009 NBA Draft on June 25, 2009 at the WaMu Theatre in New York, New York. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2009 NBAE (Photo by Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images)
Oklahoma City Thunder guard James Harden reacts after committing a foul against the Los Angeles Lakers during Game 3 of their NBA Western Conference playoff series in Oklahoma City, April 22, 2010. REUTERS/Bill Waugh (UNITED STATES - Tags: SPORT BASKETBALL)
Oklahoma City Thunder's Russell Westbrook (L) and James Harden watch the action against the Dallas Mavericks during Game 3 of the NBA Western Conference Final basketball playoffs in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, May 21, 2011. REUTERS/Bill Waugh (UNITED STATES - Tags: SPORT BASKETBALL)
Oklahoma City Thunder's Kevin Durant (L) and James Harden celebrate against the Dallas Mavericks during the second half of Game 2 of the NBA Western Conference Final basketball playoff in Dallas, Texas May 19, 2011. REUTERS/Mike Stone (UNITED STATES - Tags: SPORT BASKETBALL IMAGES OF THE DAY)
Oklahoma City Thunder's James Harden (13) dunks the ball guarded by Los Angeles Lakers' Jordan Hill (27) as the Oklahoma City Thunder play the Los Angeles Lakers during the second half of Game 1 of the NBA Western Conference semi-final playoffs series in Oklahoma City, May 14, 2012. REUTERS/Larry Smith/Pool (UNITED STATES - Tags: SPORT BASKETBALL)
Oklahoma City Thunder small forward Kevin Durant (R), guard James Harden and injured player Eric Maynor (L) celebrate after their team defeated the San Antonio Spurs in Game 6 of the NBA Western Conference basketball finals in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, June 6, 2012. REUTERS/Steve Sisney (UNITED STATES - Tags: SPORT BASKETBALL)
Toronto Raptors forward Amir Johnson tries to block a shot by Houston Rockets guard James Harden (L) during the first half of their NBA basketball game in Toronto December 16, 2012. REUTERS/Mike Cassese (CANADA - Tags: SPORT BASKETBALL)
Houston Rockets James Harden (L) drives to the basket past Los Angeles Lakers Darius Morris during their NBA basketball game in Los Angeles April 17, 2013. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson (UNITED STATES - Tags: SPORT BASKETBALL)
Houston Rockets guard James Harden takes a defensive position against the Oklahoma City Thunder in the second half of their Game 2 NBA Playoffs basketball game in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma April 24, 2013. REUTERS/Bill Waugh (UNITED STATES - Tags: SPORT BASKETBALL)
Feb 14, 2014; New Orleans, LA, USA; Western Conference guard James Harden during the 2014 NBA All Star game Player Press Conferences at New Orleans Hyatt. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports
James Harden of the U.S. goes for a basket over Serbia's Nemanja Bjelica during their Basketball World Cup final game in Madrid September 14, 2014. REUTERS/Sergio Perez (SPAIN - Tags: SPORT BASKETBALL TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY)
Nov 2, 2015; Houston, TX, USA; Houston Rockets guard James Harden (13) celebrates against the Oklahoma City Thunder in the third quarter at Toyota Center. Rocket won 110 to 105. Mandatory Credit: Thomas B. Shea-USA TODAY Sports
Nov 7, 2016; Washington, DC, USA; Houston Rockets guard James Harden (13) dribbles the ball as Washington Wizards guard John Wall (2) defends in the first quarter at Verizon Center. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports
Jan 10, 2017; Houston, TX, USA; Houston Rockets guard James Harden (13) is embraced from behind by Houston Rockets guard Patrick Beverley (2) following Houston's 121-114 victory against the Charlotte Hornets at Toyota Center. Mandatory Credit: Erik Williams-USA TODAY Sports
Jan 17, 2017; Miami, FL, USA; Houston Rockets guard James Harden (13) reacts during the second half against the Miami Heat at American Airlines Arena. The Heat won 109-103. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports
Jan 20, 2017; Houston, TX, USA; Houston Rockets guard James Harden (13) controls the ball during the first quarter against the Golden State Warriors at Toyota Center. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports
Feb 18, 2017; New Orleans, LA, USA; Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry (30) and Houston Rockets guard James Harden (13) reacts in the three-point contest during NBA All-Star Saturday Night at Smoothie King Center. Mandatory Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports
Feb 18, 2017; New Orleans, LA, USA; Western Conference guard James Harden of the Houston Rockets (13) laughs with Western Conference guard Stephen Curry of the Golden State Warriors (30) during the NBA All-Star Practice at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. Mandatory Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports
Mar 20, 2017; Houston, TX, USA; Houston Rockets guard James Harden (13) dribbles against the Denver Nuggets in the second quarter at Toyota Center. Mandatory Credit: Thomas B. Shea-USA TODAY Sports
HOUSTON, TX - MAY 11: James Harden #13 of the Houston Rockets brings the ball up court during the game against the San Antonio Spurs during Game Six of the Western Conference Semifinals of the 2017 NBA Playoffs on May 11, 2017 at the Toyota Center in Houston, Texas. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2017 NBAE (Photo by Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images)
HOUSTON, TX - MAY 11: James Harden #13 of the Houston Rockets talks with the press after the game against the San Antonio Spurs during Game Six of the Western Conference Semifinals of the 2017 NBA Playoffs on May 11, 2017 at the Toyota Center in Houston, Texas. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2017 NBAE (Photo by Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images)
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Refs blasted for call

The call drew plenty of criticism on Twitter, including from Golden State Warriors forward Andre Iguodala, who directly challenged officials to respond.

Officials admit their mistake

Respond, the officials did. And, stunningly, they owned up to it.

The NBA referees Twitter account, which has been used in the past not only to defend some of the indefensible Harden-related calls but to criticize those who criticize them for those calls, owned up to getting this one wrong.

Surprising response from referees’ Twitter account

Kudos, NBA referees. It’s OK to admit when you’re wrong. It’s even better to get things right the first time.

It’s a much more reasonable response than seen here, when whomever was running the account was mad that TNT analyst Chris Webber called officials out for being duped by Harden when he initiated contact with Los Angeles Lakers forward Kyle Kuzma and fell to the floor last week.

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