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Saturday, July 4, 2020

Report: Rockets sent report to NBA analyzing how refs stole title bid from them

Daryl Morey

The Houston Rockets believed the officiating in Game 1 against the Golden State Warriors cost them a playoff win, and they apparently had much bigger complaints when the two teams met in the postseason a year ago.

According to a report from ESPN’s Zach Lowe and Rachel Nichols, the Rockets put together a detailed analysis last year explaining how they were robbed out of a trip to the NBA Finals because of 81 potential incorrect calls and non-calls in Game 7 of the Western Conference Finals against the Warriors. By assigning point values to every instance of an officiating error, the Rockets concluded that they would have scored about 18 more points (18.6 to be exact) if the game was called correctly.

The report, which was never submitted to the NBA after Rockets officials ended up presenting their “findings” to NBA president of league operations Byron Spruell, included some instances where the Rockets admitted they benefitted from poor officiating. For example, there was one play where they argued James Harden was fouled on a missed layup, but they retained possession on the rebound and ended up scoring anyway. They counted that as a net benefit of 0.3 points to themselves, which is supposedly the difference between the actual basket they scored and the expected value of two free throws for Harden.

“Referees likely changed the eventual NBA champion,” the memo stated. “There can be no worse result for the NBA.”

NBA spokesman Mike Bass said the league does not agree with Houston’s methodology and communicated that to them.

The biggest negative impact the Rockets felt the officiating had on them dealt with “landing-spot fouls” on Harden three-point attempts. That was their main issue with the non-calls in Game 1 on Sunday, and it was the reason Chris Paul was ejected and Houston coach Mike D’Antoni picked up a technical.

The Rockets claimed their report was a more detailed version of the NBA’s Last Two Minute Report, the latest version of which contained an admission from the league that officials missed a crucial foul late in Game 1 that should have awarded Houston two free throws.

How far did the Rockets take their analysis? They claimed the poor officiating cost them a trip to the NBA Finals and $20 million in additional revenue. They also recommended the league add a fourth on-court official to help solve the issue.

With all this in mind, it makes more sense now that Warriors coach Steve Kerr reacted as strongly as he did when asked about the issues the Rockets had with the officials in Game 1. This has apparently become a theme when the two teams get together, and players and coaches on the Golden State side likely interpret it as excuse-making.

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