Why Spurs Will Win Even if Rockets Protest James Harden’s Dunk

The San Antonio Spurs defeated the Houston Rockets 135-133 in double overtime on Tuesday night. However, the Rockets are holding out hope the NBA will decide that the final 7:50 of the game must be replayed. There’s even been talk about Houston filing a protest.

Why? James Harden had a dunk the referees missed that should have counted.

As you can see in the video, Harden dunked it but then the ball got caught in the net and it swung around the rim. The confused refs thought that Harden had missed the dunk.

The Rockets are right to be upset about the blown call, as Harden should have been awarded two points for the dunk. But they are out of luck if they think the NBA is going to force a redo.

Why the Spurs’ Win Over the Rockets Will Be Upheld

First of all, successful protests are exceedingly rare in the NBA. The last successful protest took place more than a decade ago. The one before that? The year was 1982 and, coincidentally, the Spurs successfully protested a double overtime loss to the Los Angeles Lakers. That end of that game was replayed and the Spurs beat the Lakers.

But beyond the fact that protests in the NBA are almost never granted, the Rockets actually had an opportunity to challenge the call. They had a coach’s challenge available to try to overturn the call of a missed dunk by Harden — but they waited too long to try to challenge it.

houston rockets protest

The NBA isn’t going to have these teams replay the end of the game, especially when the Spurs have plays they can point to, including this missed backcourt violation by the Rockets that led to two points.

That’s a slippery slope the NBA doesn’t want to go down. The bottom line is the Harden dunk should have counted but it didn’t. The Rockets could have challenged it but they didn’t. Game over.

Hopefully that one call doesn’t overshadow what was otherwise a fantastic game. Even with that dunk taken away from him, Harden finished with 50 points and went 24-for-24 from the free throw line. 

For the Spurs, this will be remembered as the Lonnie Walker IV Breakout Game. The 20-year-old had a career-high 28 points. More amazingly, he was scoreless with two minutes remaining in the third quarter before he exploded and led San Antonio to a come from behind victory. The Spurs also got 25 points from Bryn Forbes and 23 points from DeMar DeRozan.