SAN FRANCISCO - About 12 hours after Rockets guard James Harden pleaded for officials to give him a "fair chance" following Sunday's 104-100 Game 1 loss to the Warriors, the guard dribbled his way into the local media contingency and declined to react to the league's latest Last Two-Minute Report.
"I don't have a reaction," Harden said. "It don't do nothing for us now."
For the next 20 minutes, Rockets players and coaches relayed a similar message -- even after the Rockets reportedly submitted their own data to the league saying the officiating cost them last year's title and the league issued a rebuttal -- that the team is focused on Game 2 on Tuesday night.
"We gotta do better," Rockets coach Mike D'Antoni said. "We've got to play better. It's not ever going to be a perfect game. We're going to make mistakes, we get it. But there are a few areas we're going to improve on."
As for the Game 1 performance, the Rockets consensus, despite the officiating, is that they missed opportunities. Houston forced Golden State into 20 turnovers, but Harden shot just 9-of-28 from the field, including a 4-of-16 from the 3-point line.
"We're good," Harden said. "Our offense is good. We missed a lot of shots that we should've made and we watched some film and things that we could get better at on both ends of the ball."
However, the focus of Game 1 was the officiating - more specifically Houston's response to it. Following the game, a report from The Athletic stated the Rockets have "been making a data-driven case to the league" that the Warriors get the officiating edge when the two teams play and audited the 2018 Western Conference finals. According to The Athletic, the Rockets' research of last season's Western Conference finals found the Warriors benefitted from 93 extra points in the series as a result of the officiating. In a memo obtained by ESPN, the Rockets charge that "Referees likely changed the eventual NBA champion." In response to the audit, a league spokesman told ESPN, "As we told the Rockets, we do not agree with their methodology,"
Houston's gripes with the refs extended Sunday, despite shooting more free throws than the Warriors. According to The Athletic, the Rockets counted eight 3-point attempts that should have been called for fouls on closeouts by the Warriors.
On Monday morning, the league ruled that Stephen Curry should have been called for a foul late in the game, which would have been his disqualifying sixth foul. One perceived no-call from Chris Paul with 4.4 seconds left in regulation, led to his ejection. Shortly after the game, D'Antoni chastised the refs further, saying they admitted to some missed calls at halftime.
"I had a great petty party," D'Antoni joked Monday. "It was by myself and nobody showed up but me."
While Houston's brass spared with the league behind the scenes, the Rockets maintained their focus was on Game 2. On how they'll integrate Austin Rivers back into the fold after an illness kept him out of Game 1. How Capela can be more effective after he was a minus-17 in Game 1, and how Harden can shoot better from the field, referee influence be damned.
"I don't adjust to nothing," James Harden said. "I'm gonna play how I play and that's what it is."
"Our guys played a great game yesterday, for what we had," D'Antoni added. "Our energy was there. We had a chance to win. We had a shot at the end to go to overtime and against these champs - hey that's pretty good. We just got to be better tomorrow night."