OAKLAND -- Considering his reputation for flopping in an attempt to draw fouls, Rockets superstar James Harden showed a lot of nerve Sunday afternoon.
Harden complained about the officiating in Game 1 of the NBA playoff second-round series against the Warriors. His gripes, which might lead to a fine by the NBA, mostly were about not getting calls when launching 3-pointers.
“I mean, I just want a fair chance, man,” Harden said after a 104-100 loss to the Warriors at Oracle Arena. “Call the game how it’s supposed to be called, and that’s it. And I’ll live with the results.”
Upon hearing of Harden’s grievance, Draymond Green summoned a he-of-all-people-to-complain response: “Huh.”
The Warriors forward, who's had his share of disagreements with officials, had to suppress laughter. He seemed particularly incredulous about the “fair chance” comment.
“I've been fouled by James on a James 3-pointer before,” Green said, referring to Harden’s tendency to extend his legs to draw contact after shooting. “No, I ain't going with that one. I'm straight. No.”
Harden was so peeved that he referenced Game 1 of the Warriors-Spurs 2017 Western Conference finals, when then-Golden State center Zaza Pachulia was whistled for running underneath San Antonio’s Kawhi Leonard on a 3-point attempt. Leonard rolled his ankle and missed the rest of the series, won by the Warriors.
“We all know what happened a few years back with Kawhi,” Harden said. “That can change the entire series.
“Just call the game the way it’s supposed to be called, and we’ll live with the results. It’s plain and simple.”
Rockets coach Mike D’Antoni, who conferred with referees several times during the game, said he was told by the officials -- Josh Tiven, Courtney Kirkland and crew chief Zach Zarba -- that they missed some calls.
“That’s what they told me,” D’Antoni said. “They missed four of them. That’s 12 foul shots.”
D’Antoni added that he believed his team “could have easily gone to the line another 20 times.” As it was, the Rockets shot 29 free throws -- 14 by Harden -- to 27 for the Warriors, led by Kevin Durant making 12 of 15.
As someone with a long and often acrimonious history with officials, Green wasn't in the mood to hear any grumbling from D’Antoni -- and definitely not from Harden.
“I’m going to contest his shot,” Green said. “I’ve got to contest the shot. When you land three feet ahead of where you shoot the ball from, that’s really not my issue.”
Suffice to say, Game 2 could be very interesting. The officials to be assigned have been warned.