Earlier tonight, in a quick blog about James Harden’s layup off the shot clock, I wrote the following:
OK, so it didn’t count. But the way the Rockets are beating up the Celtics tonight, two points won’t matter.
Um, I was wrong. Houston led by as much as 26 tonight, but in an insane final comeback aided by multiple offensive fouls as the Rockets attempted to inbound the ball, the Celtics ended up winning 99-98.
With 11 seconds left, Harden hit two free throws to put his team up by three. A fast Jayson Tatum dunk cut that lead down to one with seven seconds remaining, and then, Boston’s tenacious defense paid off. The Rockets had already spent their last timeouts trying to get the ball into play before the Harden free throws, and as they tried to inbound after the dunk, Harden knocked over Marcus Smart and got called for an offensive foul.
From there, Al Horford—who only scored nine points in the entire game—became the hero, nailing a tricky shot with one foot in the paint on the right wing that became the game-winner. And another Harden offensive foul denied the Rockets any shot at a victory. Instead, this became the Celtics’ eighth win of the season that saw them trail by at least 12.
Those two points look pretty attractive to Houston right about now.
Update (11:28 p.m. ET): After the game, James Harden shared his thoughts on the night’s odd officiating situation. One of the referees, Mark Lindsay, sat out with a sore back, leaving only two to call the game.