HOUSTON -- The only way Jared Dudley knew how to stop James Harden from hitting the last basket is to do what most players do on the final plays -- foul him. They know that officials generally don't like to blow whistles unless the infraction is severe but considering how controversial the ending was there's a lot to dispute.
Good decision, it turns out for the Wizards (21-24) who'd lost three games in a row and five of six. Harden, who roasted the Wizards for a 40 points in Saturday's game at Toyota Center, overshot the rim on his drive to the basket. Bradley Beal was the primary defender, Dudley came over to help on the bigger Harden and John Wall challenged him over top with a shot-block attempt.
"If you look at that I pushed him right in his back. You kidding me, with my right hand," Dudley, who had six of his 16 points in the fourth quarter when the Wizards wiped out a six-point deficit with 3:35 left to win 123-122. "He flops so much (it backfired)."
Harden apparently didn't complain about being fouled on the shot but his coach, J.B. Bickerstaff wasn't pleased with the officiating which he said ruined the game.
Harden, who leads the NBA in trips to the foul line, was 10-for-10 from the stripe. The Wizards had lost their best defender, Garrett Temple, to six fouls and didn't have him to use on Harden. They also didn't have Nene after he was ejected with 8:08 left.
Nene kept tangling with Dwight Howard and it erupted with shoves that sent the officials to replay. Howard had a technical from the second quarter and Dudley was hit for a flagrant one for his exchange with the big man.
"Nene gave him a hard foul at one point and time and they started getting into it," Dudley said of a previous entanglement between the big men that led to the ejections. "With Dwight, reputation comes in a lot. He gets a lot of quick technicals maybe some guys wouldn't get."
Crew chief explained the reason for Nene's ejection, which appeared confusing because he didn't have a prior technical: "The rulings on Nene and Howard were Nene was initially issued his first technical foul for wrapping Howard in the upper-torso area. Howard was then issued a technical foul for pushing Nene. Nene was then issued a second technical foul for continuing to taunt Howard after that."
Rockets coach J.B. Bickerstaff was hit with a technical, too, at 3:52 of the fourth. Harden was trapped on the sideline and was called for traveling. However, another official granted the Rockets the timeout but because Bickerstaff left the coaches box and screamed vehemently about not getting the call he was penalized. But after the officials huddled, they determined the timeout call which wasn't seen originally came before the traveling violation.
"Some of the stuff was just uncalled for," Howard said of his clash with Nene. "Especially grabbing people's arms and pulling them and stuff like that. That's not basketball and so that part was frustrating where a regular foul is not being called. I totally get it but when it crosses the line it's not cool."
Nene accused Howard of throwing cheap shots, for extending his arms and striking him constantly in the upper torso and face.
"It's going to be physical and like that but dirty plays are different," Nene said. "That's the way I think."