The Houston Rockets beat the Golden State Warriors, 132-127, in a wild double-OT game on Thursday night.
The game featured a James Harden triple-double, 39 points from Kevin Durant, a new record for three-point attempts, and one fateful karate kick from Draymond Green.
Green, of course, was suspended during Game 5 of the NBA Finals after multiple kicking incidents throughout the playoffs. And although he had kept his lower extremities under control to start this season, with 2:10 remaining in the second overtime period, his right leg flew up on a shot and came down on Harden’s head.
Green was given a flagrant foul. The ensuing free throws for the Rockets and possession of the ball more or less sealed the win for the Rockets.
As it happened, the Warriors trailed by three points and had possession of the ball. A three from Durant went in and out, but Green snagged the rebound and went back up for a layup. He was fouled, which earned him two free throws, but as he came down his right leg swung and landed on Harden’s head. Harden went down, clutching his face, and the refs ruled the play a flagrant-1 on Green.
Here’s the play:
The flagrant meant that, along with Green’s two free throws, the Rockets would themselves get two free throws and the ball. Green went one-of-two from the line, and Harden made both of his. On the ensuing Houston possession, Eric Gordon made a runner to push the Rockets’ lead to six. With under two minutes to play, this lead was enough for Houston to hold on for the win.
After the game, when asked about the play, Green instead cited other plays that he felt deserved to be called flagrants.
“I thought there were other calls that could’ve been called flagrant, too,” he said. “I’m under the impression that, if you’re hit in the head, incidental contact, I think that’s a flagrant foul, if I’m not mistaken, in the rule book.”
Green was referring to a moment with just 2o seconds left in the second OT, when Montrezl Harrel appeared to come down on Green’s head. Green barked at the ref for a flagrant, and the replay showed that he had a solid case. But no flagrant was awarded.
And ultimately, whether or not Harrel deserved a flagrant is besides the point. Green was one of the best players on the court against Houston, going for 20 points, 15 rebounds, nine assists, two steals and a block, but his flailing leg (whether he meant to or not) cost the Warriors big time.
Golden State is still a cool 16-3 and leading the Western Conference. But Green now has a reputation, and until he keeps his limbs under better control the refs are going to keep blowing their whistle.