James Harden was not happy about Isaiah Thomas’ Zaza Pachulia closeout no-call
During the third quarter of last night’s Houston Rockets 120-88 blowout at Cleveland, James Harden attempted a three-pointer while being closely guarded by Cavaliers’ Isaiah Thomas. The 5-foot-9 point guard closed out on Harden while the latter was in his shooting motion with the former’s feet under Harden’s landing space. This caused “The Beard” to land with his right foot over Thomas’ feet, awkwardly twisting his ankle. The referees did not call anything in that play and let the game continue. The Rockets quickly fouled to stop the game, and you could see head coach Mike D’Antoni furious at the sideline.
Speaking to the media after the game, Harden spoke about the play and he was not happy at all about the no-call. In a video courtesy of ESPN’s Tim MacMahon, Harden said about the situation:
“It was a foul, that’s what it was but, I mean, moving on… Clearly that was one of the points of emphasis they’ve been looking at since last year, you know, protecting the shooter. So, there’s no way you can shoot the basketball when a guy lands on your feet. It has to be a foul. I don’t want to, I can’t hear ‘I missed that one,’ because as we all know, injuries happen. Serious injuries happen.”
Last summer, the NBA updated its rulebook to include shooting and flagrant fouls called on hard closeouts that do not give a shooter enough landing space for his feet. There were many complaints about Zaza Pachulia aggressively closing out on Kawhi Leonard in the 2017 Western Conference Finals that injured the Spurs forward and ended his season. Thus, the NBA decided to take a closer look at the situation and changed its rules to punish these aggressive closeouts.