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.
Grabbing his defender's arm is a signature James Harden move, and it usually draws a foul -- on the Rockets' opponent— Dan Feldman (@PistonPowered) February 13, 2014
Grantland's Zach Lowe thought that the refs called the play accurately, even though Harden may have embellished some contact:
@dwalker1985 It was a foul. Ariza grabbed him with both arms. Harden sold it, but it was a foul.— Zach Lowe (@ZachLowe_NBA) February 13, 2014
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.
Dick Bavetta has been around long enuf to know that clasp Harden put on Trevor-offensive foul…okay i’ll SMH— Phil Jackson (@PhilJackson11) February 13, 2014
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.