Referee Scott Foster is the crew chief for tonight’s crucial Game 2 between the Houston Rockets and the Golden State Warriors. Golden St. won the series opener 104-100 on Sunday, but Houston took the cash as a six-point road underdog.
Twelve hours before tonight’s game tips at 10:35 p.m. Eastern, Foster was one of the top subjects trending on Twitter. Surely that’s unprecedented? Without question, it could’ve been avoided and is a terrible look for the NBA.
For those that felt Houston got shafted on a few calls in Game 1, there’s this nugget to debunk conspiracy theorists: Referee assignments for the first four games are given out before a series starts. Therefore, Foster was already going to be working Game 2 before the Rockets had complaints about James Harden getting fouled on 3-point attempts in Sunday’s series lid-lifter.
Houston felt like Harden was fouled on four different missed shots that weren’t called in Game 1. The most controversial of those came on a 3-point launch by Harden with 9.1 seconds remaining. The Rockets were trailing by three at the time and Draymond Green made contract with him on the follow-through, but nothing was called.
On Monday, the NBA’s Last 2 Minute report stated that Steph Curry should’ve been whistled for two fouls in the last 70 seconds of the game. With 1:10 remaining, Curry forced Harden out of bounds by sliding into his path.
The Association’s report said this should’ve been Curry’s sixth foul. Instead of him being disqualified, Curry drained a critical 3-pointer with 25 ticks left. The report also stated that Curry fouled Eric Gordon with five seconds remaining when there was no call made.
However, the report didn’t feel like Harden was fouled on the shot with 9.1 seconds left, indicating his leg movement initiated the contact with Green.
Houston is 0-6 in its six postseason games that Foster has officiated since 2017. During the past three seasons including the playoffs, Harden has fouled out merely four times in 265 games. Foster was a referee in three of those four games.
Foster last called a Houston game on Feb. 21 when Mike D’Antoni’s club blew a 19-point second-half lead and lost to the Lakers.
According to an ESPN report from Tim MacMahon using ESPN Stats & Information, Foster called 18 fouls in the Rockets loss to the Lakers. Twelve of the 18 calls were on Houston, including seven in the final stanza.
In the final 20 minutes, the Lakers went to the charity stripe 17 times and the Rockets didn’t attempt any free throws. Chris Paul, who like Harden has feuded with Foster for years, fouled out and was given a technical foul with 33 seconds left.
After the Feb. 21 loss, Harden described Foster as “rude and arrogant.” Harden continued, “It’s personal. For sure. I don’t think he should be able to even officiate our games anymore, honestly.”
The NBA fined Harden $25,000 for those remarks.
As of early this afternoon, most books had the Warriors installed as 5.5-point favorites with the total in the 220-221 range. The Rockets were +190 on the money line.