The Houston Rockets put on a historically great shooting performance on Tuesday night, defeating the Golden State Warriors 140-109 at home. Houston tied an NBA record with 23 3-pointers on 40 attempts, with three players making at least four triples and no one on the roster making less than half of their long-range shots. It was amazing to behold.
Of course, it might have been even more impressive if not for certain actions by the Warriors in the final minute. With 34 seconds remaining, Warriors forward Draymond Green committed a flagrant-2 foul on Rockets guard Patrick Beverley as he lined up a long 2-pointer from the corner. That foul earned Green an automatic ejection. It also came after a dunk and a taunting technical foul for Beverley just 30 seconds before. Suddenly, the end of the game wasn't so routine.
Beverley sunk both foul shots, but the festivities were far from over. The Warriors intentionally fouled Beverley on the Rockets' last two possessions, forcing Beverley to the line for four more free throws and ensuring that Houston could not attempt to beat the record for made 3-pointers in a game.
Above, take a look at all the Warriors' late-game fouls. After the jump, check out the post-game aftermath complete with quotes, as well as a clip of Houston's barrage of 3-pointers.
First, the highlight package:
Warriors coach Mark Jackson did not apologize for telling his team to foul. From the Associated Press:
"We're not going to lay down," Jackson said. "If you're going to try to get the record, we're going to stop it." [...]
"Some nights, it's not your night and it wasn't ours and we didn't play particularly well," Jackson said. "That doesn't mean, lay down and surrender. That's not in our DNA."
It's unclear what Jackson means by the Rockets trying to get the record, because they were generally abiding by standard garbage-time procedures. They weren't playing any starters late, and garbage time is effectively a free-for-all when it comes to taking shots. Beverley's late technical understandably upset the Warriors, but it's unclear how much a team can complain when they're getting beat so thoroughly.
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Rockets head coach Kevin McHale saw nothing wrong with his team's actions. He also didn't think the Warriors were out of bounds in fouling. The quotes: (via Warriors beat writer Marcus Thompson on Sulia):
"I really didn't even know we had a chance to break the record until late in the game. We shoot a lot of 3s. That's just what we do. If we were to get them in the flow, we were going to get them. Mark didn't want it to happen and fouled and I didn't have no problem with how they played. Mark's got to coach his team. I have no problem with that. ... We started off the game just on fire from the 3-point line and kinda stayed that way the whole night. That doesn't happen very often."
"I don't have any issues with anybody. We run offense. For the most part, I thought we took a couple that we made that were a little early. Kinda the ones we've been trying to stay away from lately. I told our guys, any 3 early in the clock has gotta be a 'How do you feel? Are you flowing? Are you rolling?' And then we had some guys that were flowing and that were rolling and they made them. A lot of the 3s came later on after we had a drive and kick. They packed the paint and (we) made the extra pass and that's just kind of how we play."
The players chimed in, too. Rockets forward Chandler Parsons poked fun at Jackson on Twitter by mocking the "Hand Down, Man Down" catchphrase he used to admonish late close-outs during his days as a commentator for ABC:
Hand down, man down!! Big win for us. Wheels up to Miami.
— Chandler Parsons (@ChandlerParsons) February 6, 2013
And Warriors center Andrew Bogut told the Rockets that he'll be waiting for them when they play next Tuesday in Oakland:
C U Next Tuesday fellas! — Andrew Bogut (@andrewbogut) February 6, 2013
In short, both coaches think both teams did nothing wrong, and the players apparently have some bad blood. There are arguments for both sides. Taking shots in a blowout is legal, so the Rockets did it. Fouling is legal, so the Warriors did it. When players crossed the line, they were hit with technicals and flagrants. According to the rules, that's how these things are supposed to work.
But the rules don't determine acceptable behavior — that's based on another kind of code. The Warriors were obviously within their rights to foul in these situations, but there's also something unsportsmanlike about their actions. The game was out of hand well before the final minute, so the fouls had no effect on the outcome. They were administered only to save the Warriors — who actually ranked an impressive third in the NBA in opponents' 3-point percentage at 33 percent coming into the game — from ending up on the wrong side of the record book. Unfortunately, they'll have to live with these unnecessary fouls for at least a few more games.
Whatever the case, the Rockets' performance demands attention apart from the controversy. They made as many 3-pointers as 2-pointers in 11 fewer attempts. They will sit atop the all-time record book in a tie with the 2008-09 Orlando Magic, who set the record on Jan. 13, 2009, in a road game against a woeful Sacramento Kings side (via Orlando Pinstriped Post). They managed it in only 37 attempts in an away game — three fewer than the Rockets in a home game — but against a far worse defense. Take your pick of the more impressive feat, or just celebrate both.
Oh, and maybe keep an eye on next Tuesday's game between the Warriors and Rockets. Something tells me the two teams won't be entirely friendly.
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