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Houston Rockets filing protest to overturn loss

Daniel Dunn-USA TODAY Sports

Not backing down in their fight to overturn their 135-133 double-overtime loss to the San Antonio Spurs, the Houston Rockets plan to file an official protest over the James Harden dunk that wasn’t counted, multiple media outlets reported Thursday.

The Rockets planned to file their appeal within the 48 hours required to protest. Relevant evidence by both teams must then be provided within five days. After receiving the evidence, NBA commissioner Adam Silver must issue a ruling within a five-day period.

The Rockets were hoping a judgment by the league wouldn’t require filing a protest but are doing so to ensure the NBA makes a ruling.

Their argument will cite that Harden’s dunk that wasn’t counted is an example of a “misapplication of rules,” and should have been correctly recorded as a two-point basket, according to sources at ESPN. The Rockets believe it shouldn’t be considered a judgment call by the officials.

The failure by officials to allow a coach’s challenge will also be a secondary factor cited in the protest.

The play in question occurred with 7:50 left in regulation, when Harden dunked so hard on a breakaway, the ball appeared to not make it through the net.

The dunk would have given the Rockets a 104-89 lead.

Crew chief James Capers explained afterward why they disallowed the field goal.

“When the play happened, Harden goes in for a dunk, and then the ball appears to us to pop back through the net,” Capers said. “When that happens, that is basket interference. To have a successful field goal, it must clear the net. 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 have been a successful field goal.”

Capers also said that while the Rockets were protesting, the 30-second window for requesting a challenge passed.

Rockets coach Mike D’Antoni insists he did try to challenge it.

“They said that the ball hit James and went back through (the hoop), so it was goaltending on James, so I said, ‘I challenge that,'” D’Antoni told reporters. “I didn’t get a response. Another guy said that it wasn’t goaltending, it just went out of bounds on us. I said, ‘Well, I challenge that.’ They go, ‘Can’t do that.’ I don’t know. I didn’t get an explanation. I got nothin’.”

The Rockets also have indicated in their protest that a basket interference call was not made, according to ESPN sources.

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