James Harden once again wielded his Jedi mind trick abilities against NBA officials, in the process teaching Los Angeles Lakers rookie Josh Hart a lesson he was going to have to learn sooner or later: that superstars are going to get calls other players don’t, particularly when matched up with a mere first-year pro.
To the point that this soap opera-worthy performance from the Houston Rockets star garnered a foul on the rookie out of Villanova.
josh hart just got called for the most ridiculous foul of all time on james harden pic.twitter.com/3K2M2epCFg
— isaac (@NOTISAACCAMPOS) January 1, 2018
Refs on hand didn’t rule it a shooting foul, but because Los Angeles was over the limit late in the fourth quarter, he got two free throws; Harden, who’d complained about officiating days earlier, missed the first one.
The bogus foul call didn’t stop Hart from having a night, notching a career-best 26 points on 9-of-13 shooting to go with six boards and zero turnovers in 37 minutes. Hart fouled out with 52 seconds remaining in a second overtime and his team up two. But the Lakers wouldn’t score again as the Rockets claimed a 148-142 victory.
— Los Angeles Lakers (@Lakers) January 1, 2018
“It really hurt because we came out battling and obviously we’re playing without some starters and just battling and this one really hurt. … We were frustrated because we know we should’ve had that one,” Hart said. “We lost it, we had a lot of dumb fouls and a couple of lapses on defense and it hurts.”
A strained hamstring forced Harden out of the game with 54 seconds left in regulation, but he still managed 40 points on 10-of-20 shooting, with 11 assists, two steals, and a pair of blocks.
“Hopefully it is not that serious, just a pull on the hammy,” Harden said after the win. “Just got some treatment right now and hopefully, day to day, it gets better.