Rockets’ James Harden hits game-winner thanks to goaltend by Suns’ Jermaine O’Neal
The Suns lost to the Rockets 101-98 at the Toyota Center in Houston on Tuesday after Jermaine O’Neal was called for goaltending a last-second three-point attempt by James Harden.
Yes, you read that correctly. With the score tied at 98-98, Harden lined up the game-winning attempt, only to have O’Neal gift him the points by reaching into the cylinder to goaltend the shot after the ball initially rimmed off. The basket, which prevented overtime, held up upon video review and put the finishing touches on a 9-3 Rockets run in the game’s final three minutes. Talk about a rookie mistake from a 34-year-old, 17-year NBA veteran.
This seems like a good time to mention that Suns forward Luis Scola told ArizonaSports.com earlier this week that he wasn’t sure how Phoenix had managed to win 23 games this season.
“We just don’t know how to play well,” he continued. “We don’t know how to play basketball and that’s why we lose. Until we learn how to play 48 minutes of basketball, we’re not going to win games. I’m surprised we won (23) games playing this way. Many of the games we won, we did the same thing. We just overcame it somehow. I’m also surprised we didn’t fix it. We saw the problem pretty much the first week and we couldn’t fix it. It’s very frustrating. It’s a bad year.”
Harden overcame nine turnovers to finish with a game-high 33 points (on 9-for-21 shooting), six rebounds, six assists and three steals. Scola had 28 points (on 12-for-20 shooting) and eight rebounds.
Houston (44-34) clinched a playoff spot for the first time since 2009 and remained one game behind Golden State for the No. 6 seed in the Western Conference. Phoenix lost its 10th consecutive game and dropped to a West-worst 23-55.