Harden: "how do you only have two officials on a national TV game?"
Prior to last night's showdown between the Houston Rockets and Boston Celtics, referee Mark Lindsay hurt his back during pregame warm-ups and was unable to work the game. That left only two officials, Tony Brothers and Gediminas Petraitis, to call the game short-handed which was an unacceptable alternative according to James Harden.
After the game, in which the Rockets suffered a 99-98 loss after blowing a 26-point lead, Harden couldn't hide his frustrations that there wasn't another ref available to officiate the nationally televised game.
He told reporters, per ESPN,
"Well, first of all, I'm wondering how do you only have two officials on a national TV game? That's the first question,"
"Then you got fast-break points, no-calls, turnovers, whatever the case may be. But it's a professional game, national TV. Can't happen."
Harden was whistled for two offensive fouls in the final 7.3 seconds, the first of which allowed the Celtics to take their first lead of the game with under 4 seconds remaining. The second offensive foul prevented the Rockets from having a last second shot to win the game.
"A lot of grabbing, a lot of holding," Harden said. "I mean, how else am I supposed to get open? Gotta ask, with two arms wrapped around my whole body."
Added Harden: "But like I said, it's just tough. You can't have two officials in a professional game. There's a lot of no-calls that need to be called, because that changes the dynamic of the game."
Kyrie Irving also spoke with the media after the game and said he thought the NBA had a backup official ready once Mark Lindsay was injured.
"I was like, 'Where's the backup?' Because I thought usually they have four refs. So there's one for backup or someone is watching in the back or something. I don't know the dynamic."
"But once the ref was hurt, I was like, 'Both of you guys are gonna do this?' I was like, 'All right, well, we're adjusting.' I told my teammates we were gonna have two refs out here, so use that to your advantage."