Two mind-boggling things happened last night in Oracle Arena. Both have been happening for some time now; one is amazing the other deeply frustrating.
There is a moment when a player makes so many ridiculous shots that even when contested you just feel it is going in. Still, when they make it, you are in awe. Jordan in the Finals. Steph Curry against OKC. You know it is going in, and you can’t believe it went in, all at the same time.
James Harden is at that level. With three seconds to go in the overtime, Harden took a deep three-pointer with Klay Thompson and Draymond Green on him. Both played good defense on him, it was a wild shot, and he made it. That sealed his 5th consecutive 40 point game and a triple-double performance with a dagger to beat the Warriors 135-134. The Rockets were without Chris Paul and Eric Gordon by the way. In his postgame, Harden answered how does he consistently make that kind of shots.
Every time you ask me a question like that, Imma tell you – work. Yesterday I was in that same spot, taking those same shots. I was confident it’s gonna go in, even the ones that I miss they feel good.
Daryl Morey said that it is incredible to be able to say that Harden may be the best offensive player ever with a straight face. He is on a roll, scoring 35 and dishing out five assists in his last nine games, something only Oscar Robertson could do. His three-pointer is as deadly as Kareem’s sky hook or MJ’s drive to the basket. (If only he’d stop foul hunting)
You have ten professionals trying to get any advantage they can, the game is fast, and there is a lot to process and call in a millisecond. We all make mistakes, refs are human as well and are under a lot of stress. That being said, really? REALLY?!?!?!
KD said it best; they have been missing a lot of stuff. There are levels of mistake in every line of work, and maybe it is an overreaction to say this was a fireable offense, but it was definitely close to it. You can see the ref in the replay; he has a clear point of view, he is watching the action, and Durant is clearly out of bounds. The court is yellow for God’s sake!!!
We will get the end-of-game report, and it will say this was a mistake. What we will investigate is what is the procedure for the ref that missed it and is this a replayable moment. Imagine this was Game 7 of Western Conference Finals (which very well may happen).
P.S. a shoutout to Sim888 from Reddit, this is perfection