The Houston Rockets lost a game in Los Angeles on Thursday night, bowing to the Los Angeles Lakers, 111-106, at Staples Center.
However, the bigger story, as is often the case in today’s NBA, what went down after the game overshadowed what transpired between the 94 x 50.
Rockets star James Harden went off on referee Scott Foster, going as far to say Foster “for sure” has a “personal” issue with Houston and should not be permitted to officiate any more of its games.
Harden, regarded by most as the favorite to win the NBA Most Valuable Player award, was whistled for four offensive fouls in the loss to the Lakers, including one that sent him to the showers with his sixth foul with 1:24 to play and Houston down six points. While that foul was called by referee Michael Smith, Harden directed his ire at Foster.
“Scott Foster, man. I never really talk about officiating or anything like that, but just rude and arrogant,” Harden, who finished with 30 points to extend his string of consecutive 30-point performances to 32 games, second-longest in league history. “I mean, you aren’t able to talk to him throughout the course of the game, and it’s like, how do you build that relationship with officials? And it’s not even that call [on the sixth foul]. It’s just who he is on that floor.
“It’s pretty frustrating. And I’m probably going to get hit [with a fine], but honestly, I don’t really say anything. I’m a pretty quiet guy, to myself, but it’s one of those things where you can’t voice your opinion. You can’t have a conversation with someone that’s officiating the game. You’re getting a tech. It’s pretty sad.”
ESPN Stats & Information reported Foster called 18 fouls (personal or technical) in the game — a dozen against the Rockets and six against the Lakers. Seven of the fouls against Houston were called in the fourth quarter.
Harden, who shot 11 of 24 from the field and committed half of his eight turnovers on offensive fouls, said he was upset more by Foster’s attitude than by any call in particular.
“I don’t really talk about officials or anything, but I think him in particular, he’s different,” Harden, who scored only four points and shot 2-of-7 in the fourth quarter, said as the Rockets blew a 19-point second-half lead in the loss.
The last time Harden fouled out of a game was Dec. 22, 2017 in a loss to the Los Angeles Clippers. The officiating crew chief that night — Foster.
“It’s lingering, and it’s something that has to be looked at for sure,” Harden said. “For sure, it’s personal. For sure.
“I don’t think he should be able to even officiate our games anymore, honestly.”