Trevor Ariza Fouls James Harden at Worst Time, Sets Up Harden's Easy Game-Winner

Ben LeibowitzCorrespondent IIIFebruary 12, 2014

Feb 12, 2014; Houston, TX, USA; Washington Wizards small forward Trevor Ariza (1) reacts after a play during the second quarter against the Houston Rockets at Toyota Center. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports
Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

Washington Wizards veteran forward Trevor Ariza fouled Houston Rockets star James Harden at the worst possible time Wednesday night, setting up the eventual game-winning layup in the process.

Prior to an inbounds pass with four seconds remaining and the Wizards up by two, Ariza was called for his sixth personal—though it appeared as if Harden grabbed Ariza's arm to get the call.

Grantland's Zach Lowe thought that the refs called the play accurately, even though Harden may have embellished some contact:

Because the foul occurred before the ball had been inbounded, it resulted in one free throw for Harden before the Rockets got another possession.

Harden's free throw cut Washington's lead to 112-111. He then slashed to the basket on the following play for an easy game-winning layup with 0.7 seconds left.

Even legendary coach Phil Jackson thought the Wizards got hosed by the officials on Harden's flop.

The Wizards had three players foul out in the fourth quarter: Marcin Gortat, Nene Hilario and Ariza. Washington was called for 32 fouls to Houston's 19.

Despite the ill-advised foul, Ariza had arguably his best game of the season. He drained 10 three-pointers en route to 32 points and 11 rebounds.

Harden finished with a game-high 35 points while cashing in on all 16 of his free-throw attempts.

With the win, the Rockets improve to 36-17. The Wizards, meanwhile, have fallen two games below .500 at 25-27.