The Houston San Antonio Spurs after a controversial call in the fourth quarter changed the momentum of the game. The play in question occurred when James Harden picked off a pass for an easy fastbreak dunk, which slammed so hard through the net that it flipped up and bounced off the front of the rim. In real time, it appeared as though Harden missed the dunk entirely, which is why after conversing over the call the referees waived-off Harden's dunk saying he interfered with the basket.their loss to the
The Rockets' basis of the protest was that, if Harden's basket would've counted, the game would've never gone to overtime, giving Houston the win. The team hoped to either be given a win, or have the final seven minutes of the game be replayed to determine a winner. On Monday, however, Shams Charania of The Athletic reported that the league is denying the Rockets' protest, which means that the Spurs still get the W.
The NBA released a statement on the matter, which said that the league has "disciplined all three referees from the game for misapplying the Coach's Challenge rule." When the play happened, Houston called a timeout, and coach Mike D'Antoni called for a Coach's Challenge after the referees declared that Harden had caused a basket interference. The Rockets were denied of a Coach's Challenge because more than 30 seconds had passed from the start of the timeout. However, the NBA's statement cleared up that confusion.
"The 30-second time limit for Coach's Challenges only applies when the challenge arises during a mandatory timeout or a timeout called by the opposing team," the statement reads. "Because Houston called the timeout in this case, it was entitled to challenge the basket interference call upon being informed of it by the game officials."
Here is the play in question, where it is clear that Harden does in fact make the dunk.
After the game, crew chief James Capers admitted to the pool reporter that Harden's shot should have counted. When asked why the basket didn't count, Capers explained that the refs' initially thought that the ball "popped back up through the net." After looking at the play after the game, they agreed that the shot should've counted.
"To have a successful field goal it must clear the net," Capers said. "We have since come in here and looked at the play. He dunked it so hard that the net carried it back over the rim a second time, so in fact it did clear the net and should've been a successful field goal."
The discipline handed down to the referees was not disclosed in the league's official statement, but it did say that the league will work with the Competition Committee to "develop additional procedures," to ensure that something like this doesn't happen again.