James Harden’s 51-point explosion on Friday was wasted in a 128-118 loss to the severely undermanned L.A. Clippers at home. However, that might not have been the game’s result had the game officials not fumble a foul call late in the fourth quarter of the contest.
According to Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle, the Rockets have filed that game under official protest because of what they believe was a blatant error on the part of the referees. With 3:10 left in regulation, Clippers rookie Jawun Evans appeared to have fouled Harden on a shooting attempt. That would’ve been Evan’s sixth foul, but it was mistakenly charged to Clippers guard Lou Williams instead, who was not even close to the play. Harden would make both ensuing free throws, but Evans was able to stay in the game and hound Harden for the rest of the game. Evans would eventually draw two charges on James Harden down the stretch, both of which proved absolutely crucial down the stretch as the leading MVP candidate fouled out in a losing, 51-point effort.
It’s uncertain how the protest would be decided by the league, but Feigen noted that there was a precedent in which a game had to replay a particular portion of that was put under protest.
The last time the NBA upheld a protest was in 2008 when Shaquille O’Neal was disqualified from a game with five rather than six fouls. The Hawks and Heat replayed the final 51 seconds of that game, but that error was by the crew at the scorer’s table in Atlanta rather than game officials.
While both teams await for the league’s decision with regards to the matter, the Rockets will prepare for a Christmas Day game versus the Oklahoma City Thunder on the road, while the Clippers get set for Tuesday’s home game against the Sacramento Kings.