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Harden rips shorthanded officiating crew

Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports / Action Images

Houston Rockets shooting guard James Harden was furious following his team's meltdown against the Boston Celtics.

Harden was called for two questionable push-off fouls while his team tried to inbound the ball in the dying moments of Thursday's game. Marcus Smart appeared to have exaggerated contact on at least one of the plays, but the shorthanded officiating crew only saw Harden in the wrong.

The Beard ripped the refs after the loss.

"First of all, I wonder how you only have two officials on a national TV game. That's the first question. But, a lot of grabbing, a lot of holding. How else am I supposed to get open? The guy has two arms wrapped around my whole body," Harden told Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle.

"You can't have two officials in a professional game," he added. "There were a lot of no-calls that needed to be called because that changes the dynamic of the game. It's a professional game, national TV. It can't happen."

There were three officials scheduled to work the game, but Mark Lindsay hurt his back in warmups. That left only Tony Brothers and Gediminas Petraitis to officiate. The NBA usually adds a fourth alternate referee to its crews, although there was none Thursday, leaving just two sets of eyes on the court.

Houston held a 24-point advantage at halftime, but managed just nine baskets in the last two quarters as the officials swallowed the whistle against swarming interior defense by the Celtics. With Houston unable to get to the net, the team resorted to a slew of contested long-range shots that allowed the Celtics to close the gap.

Harden finished with 34 points on 15-of-15 from the stripe, although he shot 7-of-27 from the field with eight turnovers in the 99-98 loss.

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