D'Antoni: Refs admitted missed calls, Harden says he wants a 'fair chance'
Beyond the Golden State Warriors' win, Sunday's Game 1 of the Western Conference semifinals devolved into a debate over defenders fouling shooters on 3-point closeouts.
Well after Rockets point guard Chris Paul picked up a technical foul for complaining about not getting a whistle after bumping into Shaun Livingston on a trey at the end of the third quarter, coach Mike D'Antoni told reporters that officials admitted to him they missed four such Golden State fouls in the first half alone.
"They just came in at halftime and said they missed them," D'Antoni said. "They missed four of them. That's 12 foul shots."
James Harden, the NBA's master of drawing fouls, agreed.
"I was told the same thing at half," he said. "There was probably a couple more in that second half. I mean, I just want a fair chance, man."
While it's difficult to suggest a player who has led the league in free-throw attempts six of the last seven years - some 4,127 foul shots over that span - is not getting a fair chance, Harden added that there's a danger involved in such closeouts.
"We all know what happened a few years back with Kawhi (Leonard), like that can change an entire series," he said. "Just call the game how it's supposed to be called."
Harden is referring to former Warrior Zaza Pachulia's reckless closeout on then-San Antonio Spurs forward Leonard during the 2017 playoffs. Leonard was knocked out of the series with an ankle injury, and it ultimately became the last postseason game he played for the Spurs.
What neither Harden nor Paul mentioned was their own proclivity for initiating contact with defenders on jumpshot follow-throughs. On Paul's 3-pointer, he threw his entire body toward Livingston.