Thunder's Chris Paul Says Low Blow on Rockets' Ben McLemore Was 'Incidental'

Blake SchusterAnalyst IIIAugust 23, 2020

Oklahoma City Thunder's Chris Paul, right, tangles with Houston Rockets' Jeff Green during the third quarter of Game 3 of an NBA basketball first-round playoff series, Saturday, Aug. 22, 2020, in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. (Mike Ehrmann/Pool Photo via AP)
Mike Ehrmann/Associated Press

Chris Paul put together his best performance yet this postseason on Saturday in Game 3 against the Houston Rockets, though it didn't come without some late controversy.

With the two teams battling in overtime, Paul went to work on creating separation on the wing against Houston's Ben McLemore when he appeared to hit the defender's groin before stepping back for a shot.

McLemore kneeled over in pain while Houston coach Mike D'Antoni lobbied the officials to look for a foul.

After the 119-107 victory, Paul told reporters the play was incidental and that McLemore said he was fine.

"I tried to get by him," Paul said. "It was incidental. I know when I did it on purpose. That was in college. That was a long time ago."

Even with McLemore telling Paul he was OK, plenty on the Rockets felt the play was worth stopping the game for a review.

"Anytime that happens, it should be reviewed." Harden said. "I don't know what it was, but it should have been reviewed, especially [when] somebody gets hit in a private area."

D'Antoni went even further with his remarks and critizied officials for not even giving an explanation for why the refs wouldn't take a second look at the incident. The coach was given a technical foul on the floor for his outburst during the game.

Tim Bontemps @TimBontemps

Mike D’Antoni remains ... displeased at the lack of a replay of Chris Paul getting tangled up with Ben McLemore late in OKC’s win over Houston: https://t.co/REzMvuBUk1

Harden fouled out for the first time all season, finishing with 38 points, eight assists and seven rebounds, while McLemore struggled on offense, taking just two shots from the field and missing both.

Paul, meanwhile, notched 26 points, six rebounds and five assists as the Thunder picked up their first win of the series. Houston still leads 2-1 with Game 4 set for Monday afternoon.