Late foul on Harden is turning point

OAKLAND • When asked before the Thursday game about the key to beating the Houston Rockets, Golden State Warriors coach Steve Kerr insisted his team must avoid fouling James Harden.

Never in his wildest imagination could he have envisioned how one foul on the Rockets' outstanding player was going to impact the National Basketball Association (NBA) game.

Harden converted two free throws and Eric Gordon added an interior hoop following a flagrant foul on Draymond Green, propelling the Rockets to a 132-127 double-overtime victory that ended the Warriors' 12-game winning streak.

In a game played mostly outside the three-point arc - both teams attempted 44 three-pointers - a collision in the shadow of the rim and its aftermath provided the critical twist in the Rockets' first regular-season win over the Warriors since Dec 13, 2013.

After a three-pointer by Harden gave Houston a 126-123 lead in the second extra session, Green was fouled by Harden on a shot after rebounding a Kevin Durant miss with 2min 10sec left.

In the process of completing his jump during which he was fouled, Green kicked his right leg in the air, smacking Harden in the head.

Houston’s Swiss centre Clint Capela going to the basket to shoot while drawing a foul by Golden State forward Draymond Green in Oakland on Thursday. The Rockets won 132-127 in double overtime. PHOTO: EUROPEAN PRESSPHOTO AGENCY

After a long video review, the referees deemed Green guilty of a Flagrant-1 foul, giving Harden two free throws after Green got two of his own.

"I never thought that they would call a flagrant foul," Green said of his feelings during the break in the action. "My thought was I had to make two free throws."

After getting the bad news, he made only one of two. And when Harden connected on both his attempts, all of a sudden the Houston advantage was up to 128-124.

The Rockets also retained possession, and they made the most of it when Gordon converted a tough shot in the key with 1:53 to go, creating a six-point lead they were able to massage to the finish.

"I thought Eric Gordon got a big shot in the lane," Rockets coach Mike D'Antoni said. "That's what you have to do. You have to make big shots."

Harden finished with 29 points, 15 rebounds and 13 assists for the 13th triple-double of his career, and the Rockets (12-7) ended an eight-game, head-to-head losing streak to the Warriors.

In a battle of two of the league's best three-point shooting teams, the Rockets finished 14 of 44 from behind the arc, while the Warriors struggled to 12 of 44.


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 03, 2016, with the headline 'Late foul on Harden is turning point'. Print Edition | Subscribe