James Harden's least favorite ref gets call for Warriors-Rockets Game 2 | News Coverage from USA

James Harden’s least favorite ref gets call for Warriors-Rockets Game 2

OAKLAND – The refereeing controversy that has ignited during the Golden State Warriors/Houston Rockets conference semifinals series took another dramatic twist on Tuesday.

In the lead-up to Game 2 at Oracle Arena, it was announced that Scott Foster, the NBA referee Houston has voiced more public displeasure with than any other, had been assigned to officiate the contest in which the Rockets will try to level things at 1-1.

Sadly for conspiracy theorists, the assignments for the first four games of the series are made in advance, but only released hours before tip-off on each occasion.

However, it is still an extraordinary turn of events and ensures that the issue of missed calls, non-calls and incorrect calls is even more in the spotlight as this hard-fought rematch of last season’s Western Conference Finals continues.

On Feb. 21, the Rockets dropped their first game coming out of the All-Star break, on the road against the Los Angeles Lakers, prompting James Harden to make his lingering displeasure with Foster – a 25-year veteran – crystal clear.

“Last year in the postseason, I think he officiated a couple of our games,” Harden said. “It’s lingering. It has to be looked at. For sure, it’s personal. I don’t think he should be able to officiate our games anymore, honestly.

“Scott Foster. Man. I never really talk about officiating, but just rude and arrogant. I mean you aren’t able to talk to him throughout the game. It’s who he is on the floor. It’s pretty frustrating. You can’t have a conversation. You get a tech.”

Harden was fined $25,000 for those comments.

Following Sunday’s Game 1, the Rockets were riled up, having come close in a 104-100 loss but left frustrated by what they perceived as leniency toward Golden State’s defenders. Head coach Mike D’Antoni insisted his team could have gone to the line “20 more times”. Chris Paul was ejected in the final seconds for remonstrating with a referee after Harden’s game-tying three pointer missed and no foul was called despite contact with Draymond Green.

On Monday, those protestations were followed by the revelation of a report that Houston sent to the NBA in the wake of its Game 7 Western Conference Finals loss a year ago, a memo that highlighted a swath of supposed incorrect decisions. The Rockets claimed that refereeing mistakes had cost them 18.6 points in a game they lost by nine.

Foster will work Game 2 as part of a crew also including Ed Malloy and Eric Lewis. During the February defeat to the Lakers, Harden and Paul fouled out and D’Antoni and Paul both earned technical fouls. According to the Houston Chronicle, Harden has fouled out four times in his career – with three of them coming in games involving Foster.

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In January 2018, Paul sarcastically criticized Foster after a game against the Portland Trail Blazers.

“That’s history there,” Paul said. “He the man. That’s who they pay to see.”

Certainly, Foster will be under an unusually high level of scrutiny on Tuesday night as a result of the way things have played out. A key topic coming out of Game 1 – and a primary point of conjecture for the Rockets – was whether Warriors defenders were improperly occupying the “landing area” for Rockets shooters, especially Harden.

“These are very difficult plays for officials,” Joe Borgia, NBA Senior VP of replay and refereeing operations, told NBA TV. “You are talking with an offensive player taking a jump shot, moving forward. You are talking about a defender: is he jumping toward the shooter or to the side of a shooter?

“The rule is a defender, he is not allowed to jump towards the jump shooter and take away what would be that jump shooter’s landing area under normal circumstances.”

Follow Martin Rogers on Twitter @RogersJourno

 

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