What a day for the Houston Rockets. First, the NBA denied the Rockets’ protest of last week’s infuriating loss to the Spurs in which referees mistakenly disallowed a perfectly legal James Harden dunk with 7:50 left in the game, didn’t give Mike D’Antoni the coach’s challenge he was making, and didn’t correct the score as Houston’s lead whithered away at the hands of Lonnie Walker IV.
Not only did the NBA deny the protest, they called out the Rockets for choking in so many words! According to the league’s release, the commissioner “determined that the Rockets had sufficient time to overcome the error.” In other words, if you couldn’t hold a 13-point lead to Lonnie Walker IV and Bryn Forbes and win in regulation or either overtime without those two points, it’s on you. This seems like pretty dicey, difficult precedent -- what’s the cut-off for “sufficient time”? is that going to be defined at some point? -- but as I wrote before there’s no good solution here.
But after taking that L Houston went and compounded matters by losing at the buzzer to Nemanja Bjelica and the Kings! Wasting Russell Westbrook’s best game as Rocket -- including a would-be game-winning lay-up with one second -- Houston broke down on a sideline out-of-bounds play, Bjelica popped open from 28 feet and sank the winning three at the buzzer.
The Kings beat the Mavericks and Rockets in two nights after their own heartbreaking loss to the Spurs to start the Texas Triangle. After the shot, Bjelica got the sideline interview on the Sacramento broadcast. His line about the game-winner? “F--k it, we deserve this win, man.”
"Fuck it. We deserve this win, man." pic.twitter.com/piFJUBONQe— Brenden Nunes (@BrendenNunesNBA) December 10, 2019
The Rockets probably felt like that too about both games they lost on Monday. Alas ...
Clippers 110, Pacers 99
Cavaliers 88, Celtics 110
Raptors 93, Bulls 92
Kings 119, Rockets 118
Magic 101, Bucks 110
Pistons 105, Pelicans 103
Wolves 109, Suns 125
Thunder 104, Jazz 90
Grizzlies 110, Warriors 102
All times Eastern. Games on League Pass unless otherwise noted.
Wizards at Hornets, 7
Nuggets at Sixers, 8, TNT
Hawks at Heat, 8
Knicks at Blazers, 10
Ricky O’Donnell on Spencer Dinwiddie’s non-fluke All-Star play.
Paul George got booed in Indiana and offered up an alluring tease of what he purports to be the real story of why we left the Pacers, and why he shouldn’t be the villain of the story. Spill it, PG, and we’ll all start booing you!
I wrote about Kevin Love’s trade value and future. Tim Bontemps talked to Love about how he’s coping with this weird turn in his career.
Russia’s 4-year international sports ban, explained. No major high-level basketball impacts.
Chris Herring, an authoritative source on the matter, says fixing the Knicks shouldn’t be this difficult. Here’s Rob Mahoney’s 11-point plan.
Alex Wong explains how the Raptors’ purple dino became hip again.
Rest in peace and love, Juice WRLD. Pain is universal and relentless. All we have is each other. Lift up one another and protect those you love and those you don’t know alike.
Be excellent to each other.