The NBA’s most infamous foul-drawer James Harden broke yet another record last night hitting 24-of-24 from the free-throw line, breaking Dominique Wilkins’ record who went 23-for-23 in 1992.
However, the achievement quickly became shadowed by the fourth-quarter dunk ruled out by officials, ultimately costing the Rockets the game which concluded with only a two-point deficit. The call was ruled as a missed basket and requests by Mike D’Antoni to request a challenge were overturned due to time limits. The Houston Rockets are looking to protest the game but doing so will also erase Harden’s free-throw record.
For now, the Rockets are 13-7 and hold onto the fifth-best record in the Western Conference with it difficult to predict their stretch in the postseason. Last night’s fixture at the AT&T Center was nothing to shout about until the Spurs began to crawl back into the game, gnawing away at the point gap and pushing the Rockets to their limits.
Lonnie Walker IV took control down the stretch to finish on a team-high 28 points for San Antonio, including the game-tying point in regulation, whilst Jakob Poeltl snatched an admirable team-high 15 rebounds. However, it was Houston’s Clint Capela who grabbed the game-high in rebounds with an astonishing 21 by the end of the play, coupled with 22 points.
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DeMar DeRozan also came to life for the Spurs as a pair of clutch plays are credited for leading the team to victory despite Harden’s second consecutive 50-point game. San Antonio came to life in the third and fourth, and only seemed further fuelled by the missed dunk scandal, clawing back from as many as 22 points. Walker hit 19 points in the final quarter on 7-for-8 shooting from the field and 3-for-4 from three. A sensational tomahawk dunk in transition rallied the Spurs further as they nudged into OT.
Almost a shot-for-shot in both OT’s, as DeRozan took over in leading the Spurs, hitting a team-high nine points. Attacking the rim with three seconds remaining, DeRozan got fouled and, despite the nasty collision, took to the line to sink both free-throws with composure as the Spurs welcomed the one-point lead. Taking a final charge, the All-Star buried the game at 135-133.
The Spurs take on the Sacramento Kings at home on Friday as the Rockets battle the Raptors in Toronto on Thursday.