NBA Defensive Greats Break Down The Final Seconds Of The Rockets Meltdown Vs The Celtics

There’s a good chance you hate flop master Marcus Smart. That is, unless he’s on your favorite team. If he is, you probably love him, think he’s a genius defender and get great joy watching him get under the skin of opposing players.

On Thursday, that frustrated opposing player was James Harden, who had 34 points and 10 assists on the night but shot 0-of-7 with Smart guarding him and committed two offensive fouls in the final 7.3 seconds of the Rockets meltdown against the Celtics. After the one-point loss, which saw the Rockets take a 62-38 lead at halftime, Harden voiced his frustration about the game only having two officials.

Via Jonathan Feigan of the Houston Chronicle.

“First of all, I wonder how you only have two officials on a national TV game. That’s the first question. But, a lot of grabbing, a lot of holding. How else am I supposed to get open? The guy has two arms wrapped around my whole body.

“You can’t have two officials in a professional game. There were a lot of no-calls that needed to be called because that changes the dynamic of the game. It’s a professional game, national TV. It can’t happen.”

Here’s what Kyrie Irving, who scored a team-high 26 points, had to say about the ref situation.

“Obviously, both teams wished some calls could have gone either way. But it didn’t make a difference having just two refs. When I saw both of them out there at the half court [before the game], and I was like, ‘There’s just two of y’all tonight?’ They were like, ‘Somebody’s hurt.’ I was like, ‘Where’s the backup?’ I asked a legit question. I was like, ‘Where’s the backup?’ Because I thought usually they have four refs. So there’s one for backup or someone is watching in the back or something. I don’t know the dynamic.

“But once the ref was hurt, I was like, ‘Both of you guys are gonna do this?’ I was like, ‘All right, well, we’re adjusting.’ I told my teammates we were gonna have two refs out here, so use that to your advantage.”

After the game, NBA defensive greats Gary Payton, Theo Ratliff and Ben Wallace, along with 2 x WNBA DPOY Teresa Weatherspoon, joined Kevin Garnett on TNT’s ‘Area 21’ to discuss the officiating and Harden’s offensive fouls.

The general consensus from the panel was it shouldn’t have been called and the refs should let the players decide the game.

“You could make that call on every possession of the game.” Said 4 X DPOY Ben Wallace.

Gary Payton thought a holding foul could have been called on Smart first but said Harden could have avoided his call by just running away from Smart instead of bulldozing through him. He then added “the reaction is always going to get called. That’s the way the game goes. That’s how our NBA is.”

What the group of tough old school All-Stars really wanted to say is, “today’s NBA is fucking soft!”


Here’s an amusing video of KG watching the final seconds of the game live.

And here’s the greatest defensive player of all-time (I’m obviously joking) and the ‘Inside the NBA’ crew with their takes on the meltdown.