Rockets 106, Lakers 111 - Oh Great, We Get to Have This Conversation

By Forrest Walker on February 22, 2019

The Houston Rockets can lose games perfectly well on their own and really don't need any help. Unfortunately for everyone but Los Angeles Lakers fans, we now all have to deal with a tedious discussion (to put it very nicely) about Scott Foster, the NBA's most reviled referee.This was a bizarre game that ended in a bizarre, disappointing and deeply frustrating fashion and only served to further stoke the flames of debate regarding the Rockets. In short, just a another Thursday for Houston.

The Rockets led the Lakers by 19 points midway through the third quarter and lost. The Rockets continue to give up big leads, and it's more than a little concerning. The rebounding has been hurting them, and the defense overall has been mediocre at best. They also faced an issue that has been an ongoing glitch in the system. The Houston Rockets just can't shoot for vast stretches. If any of these things hadn't shown up, Houston would be 10 games above .500 and looking to get after their stretch run.

Unfortunately the Lakers outrebounded them by double digits and scored 21 points on second chances to Houston's 4. The defense was generally unable to stop people at the rim and the Rockets missed 14 of their last 16 three point attempts. All of this conspired to help the Lakers wipe out a 19-point lead in about 15 game minutes, something that has been happening with greater and greater frequency not just to Houston but around the league. Now that more teams are shooting 30 or more three point attempts a game, each contest is shockingly variant from moment to moment and no lead is truly safe.

This has the side effect of making every team seem vulnerable and lackluster.

James Harden still got his 30 points, of course, extending his meaningless string of a particular stat. He just barely managed to get the last two points before he fouled out on a paid of charge calls. Wait, what's this? Harden fouled out? Chris Paul fouled out, too? Hold on, what happened with this game?

Oh didn't I mention? Scott Foster inserted himself into this game like a socially illiterate acquaintance at a party you can't avoid. Harden has fouled out exactly seven times in his entire career, and now once this season. If the Rockets were going to lose this game, so be it. They didn't, however, need the help of the referees to do so. Harden being called for an offensive foul because his arm moved near Rajon Rondo (but didn't touch him) is a bitter pill to swallow. This game became a circus as Foster's seeming antipathy toward Chris Paul and the Rockets took center stage. Late in the game, the Rockets willingly took technical fouls for a chance to scream about the situation.

The Lakers shot 33 free throw's to Houston's 15, though to be fair the last couple were due to an intentional foul and Chris Paul and head coach Mike D'antoni didn't really shy away from gifting the Lakers a couple technical shots. It was a bad, distracting look and now we have to have this awful conversation. James Harden and Chris Paul both took shots at Scott Foster after the game, and all the usual suspects will now begin their joyous dunking on the Rockets for having the temerity to not like the worst referee in the league despite the fact that they try to draw fouls.

It's terrible and yet here we are, reading and writing about it. If the Rockets are going to cough up wins (and trust me, they are), let them do so without this needless fanning of the flames. I don't want to write about referees.  I don't even want to think about them, except to laugh when a player tricks them. I can understand why some referees dislike the Rockets for all the exploitative antics they get up to. This, however, does not seem to be the way to deal with it. Four offensive fouls on Harden is hard to swallow. He was called for three fouls in the first minute, which was astonishing all on its own.

So, sure, now we have this discussion again, and the discourse around the Houston Rockets gets a little bit more toxic and intolerable. The all-star break is over and we're having fun.

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