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Two teams hoping for better performances as well as better officiating get a rematch Tuesday night when the Golden State Warriors and Houston Rockets meet in Game 2 of the Western Conference semifinals in Oakland, Calif.
The Warriors overcame 20 turnovers to record a 104-100 win in the best-of-seven opener at home Sunday afternoon, helped by the Rockets missing 33 of their 47 3-point attempts.
The volatile game also featured 45 fouls and seemingly an equal number of debatable non-calls, the latter at least partly responsible for four technical fouls, including two on Rockets guard Chris Paul, who was ejected.
Players and coaches from both teams lobbied afterward for more whistles in their favor moving forward, including James Harden, who fell several times upon being contacted on 3-point shot attempts, including when he missed a potential game-tying effort with 9.1 seconds remaining.
"I just want a fair chance, man," Harden insisted at his postgame press conference after getting sent to the free throw line just once on a 3-point attempt but 14 times overall. "Call the game how it's supposed to be called, and that's it. And I'll live with the results."
ESPN's research disclosed after the game that referees had called fouls on 100 of Harden's 3-point attempts in the Rockets' previous 87 games this season, including five times in their 4-1 first-round win over Utah.
The NBA's "Last Two Minute Report," focused on just the final 120 seconds of the game, noted that the referees were correct in not calling a foul on Harden's last 3-point attempt, one on which it appeared there had been contact as Golden State's Draymond Green crossed his path.
The report did note, however, that Warriors star Stephen Curry, who played the final 6:34 of the game with five fouls, should have been assessed a disqualification-prompting sixth on two separate occasions in the final two minutes -- including on the play that led to Paul getting his second technical with 4.4 seconds left.
Warriors coach Steve Kerr noted at his club's workout Monday that he hopes both teams can put the Game 1 officiating behind them and focus on playing better basketball in Game 2.
"Every coach in the league will tell you: You watch the tape afterward and you think, 'Man, we got (jobbed),'" Kerr claimed. "The reality is you get some, you lose some. The refs do the best job they can, and then you move on to the next game. So I'm disappointed this has become the whole narrative when it really should be about two great teams competing against each other."
The top-seeded Warriors won the game by outshooting the Rockets 50.7 percent to 41.9 and outrebounding them 38-26. Green contributed to both advantages, shooting 7-for-9 and pulling down nine rebounds.
Harden went 4-for-16 on 3-pointers, but was hardly the only player who struggled from beyond the arc. In fact, among the 10 guys in the game who attempted two or more treys, only Paul (3-for-6) and the Warriors' Andre Iguodala (1-for-2) made at least half of their tries.
The fourth-seeded Rockets won three of four from the Warriors in the regular season, winning twice in Oakland. Houston also won at Golden State in Game 4 of last year's Western finals, a series the Warriors rallied to take 4-3 by winning the final two games.
--Field Level Media
Updated April 29, 2019