Knicks protest to NBA over Monday's loss to Rockets: Source

The New York Knicks are filing a protest against Monday's 105-103 loss to the Houston Rockets, a league source confirmed Tuesday.

With the score tied at 103, Rockets guard Aaron Holiday nailed a prayerful 3-pointer with 0.3 seconds left. Referee Jacyn Goble called Knicks guard Jalen Brunson a foul for running into the shooter. Holiday connected on 2 of 3 free-throw attempts to win the game for Houston.

After the final fumble, team president Ed Malloy admitted in an interview that Brunson made an “accidental contact” and the play shouldn't have been called a fumble. Had it not been for the whistle, the Knicks and Rockets would have gone into overtime tied at 103.

“After seeing it during the post-game review, the attacker was able to return to a normal playing position on the floor,” Malloy said in an interview with a pool reporter. “Contact after the release of the ball is incidental to the attempted shot and narrow and should not be called.”

Knicks' perspective

The goal will be to continue the game. If the Knicks win the showdown, New York and Houston will meet again and play five minutes of overtime.

As soon as the final buzzer sounded in Houston on Monday, rumblings that the Knicks were considering a protest began. Of course, winning an opposition requires more than admitting a wrong call, even when that call determines the final outcome.

A team would have to prove the officials abused a rule, meaning the Knicks have a chance here, and they don't usually show Monday's referees.

New York can compare the final play of regulation to the last play of the first half in which a similar play took place. In this instance, Knicks guard Donte DiVincenzo soared for a deep 3-pointer before the buzzer. The officials fouled three times when Holliday, rushing to cover him, was cut in his leg.

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But when the mistake happened I had to go to the monitor to see if there was time on the clock. Once they settled down for a fraction of a second, the Rockets challenged the offense. Houston not only won the challenge and cleared the foul on Holiday, but overturned the call on DiVincenzo, who knocked Holiday to the ground and got his foot stuck on the play.

The Knicks could argue that playing at the end of the game is no different than DiVincenzo. Watch the Brunson Holiday fouling replay closely and you can see Holiday kicking a leg. But the fourth-quarter kickoff was more subtle than DiVincenzo's. Even if the Knicks demonstrated an inconsistency between those two plays, it wouldn't necessarily be considered an abuse of the rules.

There's a reason teams rarely record protests. And when they do, there's a reason they rarely succeed. Proving an inflated call is not enough. Beyond that, it won't be easy to prove the Knicks play here. — Fred Katz, Knicks staff writer

Where do the Rockets stand in this regard?

It seems the Rockets don't particularly care about the Knicks' opposition. For one thing, the chances of a successful protest are slim, having last been allowed in the 2007-08 regular season.

Second, Houston went through a similar process in December 2019, filing a protest over an undisclosed James Harden dunk in a double-overtime loss to the San Antonio Spurs. James Capers, the official in charge that day, admitted to the mistake after the game, but the league denied the Rockets' claim after conducting their own investigation.

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The process for filing an opposition is tedious, comparable to lengthy legal proceedings, and requires an additional $10,000 opposition fee. Sure, the financial aspect seems like a drop in the bucket for a billionaire, but the amount of work required to do the procedures isn't daunting, especially if the odds are historically stacked against the opposing team. — Kelly Ico, Rockets staff writer

Required reading

(Photo by Jalen Brunson: Carmen Mantado/Getty Images)

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