Refs admit they screwed up James Harden dunk call, blame Mike D'Antoni for not challenging in time


The NBA refs got it wrong. When Houston Rockets star James Harden dunked the ball in the fourth quarter Tuesday night, it should have counted. The refs admit they called it wrong, but they also claim that doesn’t matter.

The dunk wasn’t the issue, it was Mike D’Antoni’s timing. The 68-year-old D’Antoni didn’t challenge the play fast enough, according to NBA Crew Chief James Capers.

That issue is at the center of the controversy surrounding the Rockets’ 135-133 loss to the San Antonio Spurs on Tuesday. The game, which went into double overtime, could have been decided much earlier if the refs had reviewed Harden’s dunk.

With 7:47 left in the fourth quarter, Harden went up for a wide-open dunk. He slammed the ball with so much force that it went through the net and then came back up and bounced on the rim. The sequence looked bizarre in real time, but replays showed Harden did slam the ball through the net. It should have counted.

The refs never looked at the play, so the dunk did not count. The Rockets and Spurs ended the fourth quarter tied at 115, so those two points made a huge difference.

As a result of the missed review, the Rockets are considering protesting the game. The Rockets are reportedly “optimistic” the NBA will either alter the result of the game or make both teams play the final 7:50 of the contest.

Based on Capers’ comments following the game, that doesn’t seem likely. Unless D’Antoni and the Rockets can definitively prove a challenge was requested before the 30-second limit had expired, the team is going to have to live with the result of Tuesday’s game.

Report: Rockets ‘likely’ to file protest over missed dunk call

Tuesday night, ESPN’s Tim MacMahon reported that the Rockets are now ‘likely’ to file a protest regarding the missed call due to the NBA’s inaction.

Houston was reportedly “optimistic” that the NBA would handle the situation without the team needing to officially protest. Now, according to ESPN, the Rockets see filing a protest as a way to “ensure that the NBA office will have to make a ruling.”

The NBA requires that protests be filed within 48 hours of the game in question. ESPN added that the league has started its own investigation, but that it will take longer than two days to conclude, so Houston wants to cover its bases.


Chris Cwik is a writer for Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at or follow him on Twitter! Follow @Chris_Cwik

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