James Harden Houston Rockets
Photo: Houston Rockets

The Houston Rockets will likely file an official protest with the NBA about their 135-133 double-overtime loss to the San Antonio Spurs on Dec. 3.

The Rockets were up 102-89 in the fourth quarter when a breakaway dunk by James Harden went through the net and then came out, initially looking like he had missed.

The officials didn’t count the basket even after a challenge by head coach Mike D’Antoni.

The report of a protest comes from ESPN’s Tim MacMahon, as he states that the Rockets had been optimistic that the NBA would take action without a protest necessary.

However, the likely protest will now force the league to have to make a ruling.

NBA rules require a protest to be filed within 48 hours after a game.

The NBA office has started conducting an investigation that could take longer than the 48-hour window.

The Rockets argue that they should either be awarded the win because they actually outscored the Spurs in regulation or that the final 7 minutes and 50 seconds of the game be replayed at a later date.

D’Antoni told reporters after the game there was confusion about how the play was called and whether he could use his challenge:

They said that the ball hit James and went back through [the hoop], so it was goaltending on James, so I said, ‘I challenge that.

I didn’t get a response. Another guy said that it wasn’t goaltending, it just went out of bounds on us. I said, ‘Well, I challenge that.’ They go, ‘Can’t do that.’ I don’t know. I didn’t get an explanation. I got nothin’.

Crew chief James Capers said after the game that the play was reviewable, but that D’Antoni waited too long to indicate he wanted to challenge the call.

The most recent example of teams replaying part of a game took place on March 8, 2008, between the Atlanta Hawks and Miami Heat, so the odds might not be in the Rockets favor.

In the 2008 example, the previous game between the Hawks and Heat was on Dec. 19 and the Hawks unofficially won 117-111 in overtime.

The official scorer incorrectly ruled that Shaquille O’Neal fouled out, so they had to replay the final 51.9 seconds when the two teams met next.