James Harden Slams 2-Official Team, Offensive Foul Calls After Loss vs. Celtics

Alec Nathan@@AlecBNathanFeatured ColumnistDecember 29, 2017

Houston Rockets' James Harden (13) protests a call beside Boston Celtics' Marcus Smart (36) during the first quarter of an NBA basketball game in Boston, Thursday, Dec. 28, 2017. (AP Photo/Michael Dwyer)
Michael Dwyer/Associated Press

James Harden expressed his displeasure with the officiating during the Houston Rockets' 99-98 loss to the Boston Celtics on Thursday night at TD Garden after he was whistled for offensive fouls against Marcus Smart on consecutive inbounds plays in the game's final 7.3 seconds. 

"First of all, I wonder how you only have two officials on a national TV game," Harden said after the game, according to the Houston Chronicle's Jonathan Feigen. "That's the first question. But, a lot of grabbing, a lot of holding. How else am I supposed to get open? The guy has two arms wrapped around my whole body."  

According to ESPN.com's Chris Forsberg, Tony Brothers and Gediminas Petraitis were the only officials available because Mark Lindsay injured his back prior to the game and was forced to sit out. 

"You can't have two officials in a professional game," Harden added, per Feigen. "There were a lot of no-calls that needed to be called because that changes the dynamic of the game. It's a professional game, national TV. It can't happen."

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Harden, who finished with a game-high 34 points and 10 assists, was flustered by Smart all night. 

Specifically, he shot 0-of-7 from the floor and committed four turnovers—including the pair of offensive fouls—when Smart operated as his primary defender, per ESPN Stats and Info

The postgame frustration with referees is nothing new for Harden. 

Following the Rockets' 128-118 loss to the Los Angeles Clippers on Dec. 22, Harden referred to offensive fouls he was whistled for down the stretch as "bulls--t." 

"I'm tired of hearing 'I made a mistake' or 'I didn't see it,'" he said at the time. "It's frustrating to hear as a player. I know we all make mistakes, but it's just frustrating."

The Rockets will wrap up a three-game road trip Friday night in the nation's capital against the Washington Wizards at Capital One Arena.