For some teams a bad call can ruin a game but luckily for the Houston Rockets, they have James Harden.
Last year’s MVP has been in incredible form again this year but few baskets will be as sweet as the matchwinner today.
Playing last years’ champions, the Golden State Warriors, the Rockets rebounded from 20 points down to force overtime.
With just over 20 seconds left, the Warriors Kevin Durant made a desperate play to keep the ball in bounds with the ball then finding its way to Steph Curry to put Golden State up 134-132.
That was despite the fact both his feet were out of the court.
Harden blew up but knew his side needed a play.
Harden drained a three-pointer over plenty of Warriors pressure to stun the home crowd with just one second left.
It left one last play for the Warriors with Durant taking a long shot but he was unable to sink it from downtown.
Again it was Harden with 44 points, 10 rebounds and 15 assists who was the key to help the Rockets to the 135-134 win, Houston’s sixth straight and 11th in the last 12.
Harden. Game winner. Words. Mic drop. pic.twitter.com/c5F4OEFtaF— Vasu Kulkarni (@Vasu)
Initially thinking it was fine, the commentators went back to look at Durant’s play.
The commentators were flabbergasted.
“How in the world do you miss that?” one asked.
“It’s not like he was on the line — he had both feet in the yellow,” the other replied.
“He couldn’t be more out of bounds.”
Was KD not out of bounds here? ? pic.twitter.com/LQNcH6tZNo— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport)
Viewers, including other NBA stars, were floored by the decision.
That Kevin Durant play is one of the worst missed calls in the history of sports—doesn’t matter though when James Harden exists. What a shot. What a game. What a player. Harden is magnificent.— Kevin O’Connor (@KevinOConnorNBA)
Lmao how do you miss that????????????— Joel Embiid (@JoelEmbiid)
? lol— Damian Lillard (@Dame_Lillard)
Harden scored 44 for the match and was asked about what it takes to make a shot like that.
“Every time you ask me that question I’m going to tell you — the work,” he said.
“Yesterday I was in that same spot with the same shot so I was confident it was going to go in and even the ones that I miss feel good. Big time shot and I’m happy to come away with the win.
“I knew my team needed me to come up whether it was to make a shot or make a play and we did that. We had multiple opportunities that didn’t go our way but I’m happy to come away with a big time shot.”
SPURS FANS’ INCREDIBLE LEONARD SLAM
To say Kahwi Leonard had a bit of a nightmare return to San Antonio is a bit of an understatement.
The Toronto Raptors star and teammate Danny Green were the subjects of a video tribute before the game, celebrating their championship victory with the Spurs.
While Green was given a warm reception, Leonard received the cold shoulder.
Fans booed and yelled out “traitor” at the former Spurs star, clearly not over his ugly departure from the team in the off-season.
And now Kawhi Leonard has 18,581 people telling him he is a traitor… pic.twitter.com/bESXlFSn7g— Dime (@DimeUPROXX)
Leonard and Green were traded for DeMar DeRozan, Jakob Poeltl and a protected 2019 first round Draft pick after a bizarre departure.
Leonard suffered a mysterious quadricep injury mid-season and then asked for a trade despite a year left on his contract.
It appears there is no love lost and the fans let him know it.
The Spurs fans also let Green know how they feel, cheering every time he had the ball.
Both players had seven years in San Antonio but the blame lays squarely at the feet of Leonard.
Funny compare and contrast between Kawhi and Danny Green ? pic.twitter.com/WrCknDw2mC— Evan Closky (@EvanClosky)
The game didn’t get much better with the Spurs running away 125-107 winners — sparked by DeRozan’s first career triple-double with 21 points, 14 rebounds and 11 assists.
Leonard scored 21 points but the booing seemed to play with the MVP candidate’s mind with jeering every time he touched the ball.
When asked about the booing after the game, Leonard said he would use it.
“I embraced it and it is only going to get me better,” he said. “The media does a great job to stir people’s minds and influence them to think a certain way. So, I already knew how it was going to be.”
The slagging from fans got to Leonard’s mum who unloaded on a fan sitting in her section.
Kawhi’s mom just said more words to that fan than Kawhi has his entire career https://t.co/8arvir19X4— Tyler Conway (@jtylerconway)
DeRozan and the Spurs dominated the battle of former teammates, leading by as many as 28 points in snapping the Raptors’ three-game winning streak.
LaMarcus Aldridge scored 23 points for San Antonio while Bryn Forbes added 20.
After the match, Leonard’s former coach Greg Popovich hugged his former star and said he was uncomfortable about the booing.
“I felt badly about it,” he said. “Kawhi’s a high-character guy. We all make decisions with our lives, what we’re going to do with our futures. He has that same right as any of us. So I felt badly, in all honesty.”
The move from Leonard has been good for both parties with the Spurs not having to deal with the speculation and the Raptors sitting second in the Eastern Conference with a 28-12 record.
Although the loss ended a three-game winning streak, he said there were still some positives to take from the result.
“I feel good except for losing the game,” Leonard said. “I’m glad I walked off the court healthy, we’ve got some things to look at as a team together but the past is the past. I’m still playing, I probably won’t reflect until I retire. I’ll keep moving and try to get better at what we’re doing here.”
LEBRON-LESS LAKERS CONTINUE STRUGGLE
The good news for the LA Lakers — LeBron James is back shooting after his groin injury.
The bad news — at least one NBA expert things he might be out for up to six weeks.
A 107-100 loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder saw the Lakers crash to three losses from four games since their superstars injury and sit eighth in the West.
Fox Sports analyst Chris Broussard said the Lakers may have to start getting used to life without LeBron with potential his injury could take six weeks to heal.
“They said he was shooting yesterday,” Broussard told The Undisputed.
“If it is a grade one strain then that is one to two weeks — it has only been a week.
“If it is a grade two strain it is three to six weeks.
“Remember Steph Curry missed 11 games earlier this season in three weeks with a strained groin.”
A six week lay-off could be the worst case scenario for James, who was on the bench wearing street clothes in today’s match up with the Thunder.
But the timing may be perfect for the 33-year-old to help the Lakers make some serious championship waves.
“This seems to be par for the course and it actually could be a good time, maybe the best time in the year for it to happen,” Broussard said.
“When you look at their schedule, seven of their next eight games are against teams under .500.
“It is a good time to see what really is around LeBron James.
“Obviously Golden State is the heavy favourite but if they falter, I think the Lakers are in that group with Houston and OKC that have a shot.
“This season was really about seeing what you have outside LeBron.
“If they can play well in this stretch and win games then it could build their confidence in themselves, the sporting cast.”
Paul George, who was a target for the Lakers in free agency but chose the Thunder, was booed by the LA crowd but starred with 37 points.
Russell Westbrook had 14 points, 16 rebounds and 10 assists despite 3-for-20 shooting, but his fellow Southern California native was the centre of attention in the Thunder’s only visit to the Lakers this season.
“I was prepared for it,” George said. “I’m the bad guy, and that’s fine.
“I’m not the only guy from SoCal, the LA area, that didn’t decide to play here.
“You can go down the whole list of guys from this beautiful city. It is what it is. The decision has been made. No ill will.”