Per ESPN.com's Nick Friedell, Durant said Harden is "not cheating the game" because "he's playing within the rules of the game" and is exploiting the rules to his advantage:
"I think everybody, once they get into the lane, they use little tricks to try to get their shots off. I don't think he's any different.
"He may bump guys off going to the rim but everybody does that. I wouldn't say that he's found a way to ... cheat the rules. I wouldn't say that. I just think that he has his style of play. It might not be what everybody likes to see, but it's been effective. And I don't think he's been cheating the game at all."
Durant also noted the officials "aren't going to be perfect all game" and rather than constant talk of calls or non-calls, focus on "how great all of these players are on the court."
Generating foul calls has been a huge part of Harden's success since he was acquired by the Houston Rockets prior to the 2012-13 season. The seven-time All-Star has averaged 10.2 free-throw attempts per game over the past seven seasons, including a career-high 11.0 in 2018-19.
In November, ESPN.com's Tim MacMahon and Michael C. Wright shared thoughts from players and coaches about Harden's ability to get calls from the officials.
"He flops on offense just like I flop on defense," Boston Celtics guard Marcus Smart said. "He's been in the league a long time, and he's built that reputation. It's hard to guard him knowing that, at any given moment, you can get called for a foul."
Harden and the Rockets were vocal in their criticisms of the referees following their 104-100 loss to the Golden State Warriors in Game 1 of their Western Conference semifinal series.
"I just want a fair chance," Harden told reporters. "We all know what happened a couple years back with Kawhi [Leonard]. Call the game the way it's supposed to be called, and we'll live with the results."
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On the play Harden referenced, in Game 1 of the 2016-17 Western Conference Finals, Leonard injured his ankle when Zaza Pachulia appeared to undercut him on a long two-point jumper.
Per the NBA's last-two-minute report, officials were correct in not calling Draymond Green for a foul when he made contact with Harden on a three-point attempt with 10.1 seconds to play in Game 1 on Sunday.
The Rockets and Warriors will return to the court Tuesday for Game 2 with all eyes on the officiating.