Warriors

NBA rumors: Rockets wrote memo saying refs likely cost them 2018 title

NBA rumors: Rockets wrote memo saying refs likely cost them 2018 title

Programming note: Watch the pregame edition of Warriors Outsiders Tuesday night at 6, streaming live on the MyTeams app.

The Houston Rockets are...

...embarrassing themselves.

On Monday morning, Sam Amick of The Athletic reported that the Rockets obtained the officiating reports from all seven games of last year's Western Conference Finals and concluded that the referees cost them 93 combined points. Amick also reported that the Rockets believe the "Super Team Warriors are getting a major officiating advantage in these heavy-hitter matchups," and provided a data-driven report to the NBA that explained their reasoning.

On Monday afternoon, Zach Lowe and Rachel Nichols of ESPN took the story to a whole another level, reporting that the Rockets created a memo after auditing Game 7:

"Referees likely changed the NBA champion," says the memo, addressed to Byron Spruell, the NBA's president of league operations. "There can no be no worse result for the NBA."  

The Rockets never actually sent the memo to Spruell because they ended up communicating its messages -- including that they believe officiating cost them the 2018 title -- during in-person meetings with league officials, according to multiple league sources."

Wow.

The Rockets led last year's Game 7, at home, by 15 points at one juncture during the game. Houston also infamously missed 27 consecutive 3-pointers from midway through the second quarter to midway through the fourth quarter.

Yet they are blaming the referees for falling short of advancing to the Finals? 

It's also funny how the Rockets -- who most likely would have beaten the Cavs -- just assume the championship was an automatic.

Here are some more details from ESPN:

The full report obtained by ESPN lists 81 total calls, non-calls and violations. It concludes that those 81 instances cost Houston a total of 18.6 points in that game.

In its own reports, the league does not issue point values to missed calls and non-calls.

"As we told the Rockets, we do not agree with their methodology," Mike Bass, an NBA spokesman, told ESPN on Monday.

The Rockets also argue in their memo that veteran officials "exhibit the most bias against our players."

[RELATEDLast Two Minute Report: Three incorrect calls favored Dubs]

This is truly unbelievable and this story isn't going away anytime soon.

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Warriors takeaways: What we learned in emotional 115-104 loss to 76ers

Warriors takeaways: What we learned in emotional 115-104 loss to 76ers

BOX SCORE

Perhaps inspired by the memory of Kobe Bryant, the Warriors played with fire and fury Tuesday night in his hometown.

It wasn’t quite enough to take down the contending 76ers at Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia.

After trailing by as much as eight, the Sixers opened the fourth quarter with a 9-0 run and wound up slapping a 115-104 defeat on the Warriors.

Despite four players scoring in double figures, led by D’Angelo Russell’s game-high 28 points, and a near triple-double from Draymond Green, the Warriors (10-38) fell for the 14th time in 15 games.

The 76ers (31-17) pushed their home record to an NBA-best 22-2.

Draymond brought it

There have been a few occasions this season when Green, who has coped with an assortment of aches and injuries, was unable to summon his typical energy and production.

This was not one of them.

In 10 first-quarter minutes, Draymond tracked down six rebounds and recorded three assists. He totaled nine points, 12 assists and nine rebounds -- just short of his third triple-double this season -- and also added three blocks and one steal.

It was, effectively and statistically, his strongest game in four weeks.

As someone who had a strong relationship with Bryant, there is no doubt that he wanted to make his mentor proud. He succeeded.

Failures of the bench

Their last game coming last Friday, the Warriors were coming off their longest inactive stint of the season. The starters appeared rejuvenated. The reserves did not.

With the Warriors bench scoring 26 points on 9-of-28 shooting, Philadelphia posted an 11-point advantage in bench scoring.

The individual numbers were, um, ghastly.

Alec Burks, the team’s most reliable bench player, scored 11 points but finished minus-31. Eric Paschall, returning to the city where he played college ball (Villanova), was restricted to 10 minutes because he was whistled for five fouls. He finished minus-12. Backup center and occasional power forward Omari Spellman, another Villanova product, had five points on 2-of-7 shooting and finished minus-20. Rookie guard Jordan Poole shot 1-of-5 over 15 minutes and ended the game minus-12.

Meanwhile, Philly backup point guard Raul Neto scored 19 points in 21 minutes.

A night for the bench to forget.

The Kobe moment

In a prearranged agreement, each team opened the game by taking a turnover as a nod to the late Kobe Bryant.

The 76ers won the opening tip, with center Joel Embiid tapping the ball to guard Ben Simmons, who placed the ball on the floor until eight seconds ticked off. A backcourt violation was whistled, with the turnover giving the ball to the Warriors.

It’s probably the first time in the long history of Philadelphia basketball that the home crowd responded to a Sixers' turnover with a standing ovation.

Russell inbounded in the frontcourt to Green, who immediately placed the ball at his feet. For the next 24 seconds, all 10 players stood silently, each man with his thoughts.

[RELATED: Embiid wears No. 24 as 76ers, Warriors pay tribute to Kobe]

The Warriors took a 24-second possession violation, giving the ball back to the 76ers.

It is safe to presume neither team has any regrets.

Warriors, 76ers collaborate to honor Philadelphia native Kobe Bryant

Warriors, 76ers collaborate to honor Philadelphia native Kobe Bryant

Joel Embiid on Tuesday night played while wearing the No. 24 on his jersey instead of his customary 21.

His 76ers teammates wore one of two numbers during pregame warmups. Some wore 24, others wore 8.

The Warriors, every last one of them, wore black. The weight of the moment was etched on the face of rookie guard Jordan Poole.

This was the power and influence of Kobe Bryant, whose death on Sunday is being absorbed ever so slowly by the NBA fraternity and many outside the sport.

Temporarily defying the rules and purpose of competition, the Warriors and 76ers began the game in Philadelphia -- where Kobe was born and attended high school -- by allowing themselves to reflect on something bigger than basketball.

[RELATED: Draymond, Kerr having trouble processing Kobe's death]

They spent the first 35 seconds of the game focused solely on Kobe’s life and death. Embiid won the opening tip, directing the ball to Ben Simmons, who promptly placed it on the floor, where it sat for the next eight seconds. The crowd inside Wells Fargo Arena stood and cheered, after which an eight-second backcourt violation was assessed, the turnover giving the ball to the Warriors.

D’Angelo Russell inbounded to Draymond Green, who followed Simmons’ example by placing the ball on the floor. The Warriors took a 24-second possession violation, giving the ball back to the Sixers.

The first dribble was not taken until 11: 25 remained in the first quarter, the first shot coming 22 seconds later.

This all came after a pregame ceremony to honor Bryant. His Lower Merion High School No. 33 jersey, white with maroon trim, was spotlighted, along with eight more spotlights signifying the other victims that perished in the helicopter crash Sunday in Southern California. The names of all nine, including Kobe’s 13-year-old daughter Gianna, were in lights on the message board.

It was another example of the vibe permeating the NBA since the tragedy.