In the climactic moment of a game where he felt that he wasn't getting enough calls, Carmelo Anthony did draw a whistle. It just wasn't the one he needed. Anthony was denied a chance at a potentially game-winning four-point play against the Houston Rockets on Thursday night at Madison Square Garden when official Scott Foster determined that a foul committed by James Harden came before the shot attempt.
The Rockets led the Knicks 107-104 with just 5.8 seconds remaining when Iman Shumpert inbounded the ball to Anthony. After catching the inbounds pass on the wing, Anthony gathered himself and turned toward the rim. Harden, meanwhile, slapped at his forearm once, then twice. With Harden appearing to be fouling intentionally on the play, Anthony eventually went into his shooting motion and got off a contested shot.
It was good! But it didn't count?
Foster had blown his whistle after the first slap by Harden and waved off the basket. The play was close enough that even the official Twitter account of the Rockets seemed to initially think that Anthony was going to get the continuation call and a chance to win the game at the free throw line.
So, whose heart just sunk to their stomach for a second? Harden fouled Melo on the floor, FTs instead of the crazy 3.
— Houston Rockets (@HoustonRockets) November 15, 2013
The Rockets' Twitter account wasn't the only one buzzing about the play and the timing of the call.
With the basket waved off, Anthony would head to the line for two shots. He would make both to cut the Rockets lead to 107-106 but the Knicks would not get any closer and eventually fall 109-106. While the person running @HoustonRockets was relieved, Anthony was not pleased after the loss. Especially troubling him was the disparity in free throw attempts. Anthony scored a season-high 45 points but shot just 11 free throws, making nine. Harden went 16 for 18 from the charity stripe en route to 36 points. As a team, the Rockets shot 44 free throws compared to 27 for the Knicks.
"You look at that and you see the way that some guys get their calls; me, I got to get cut, you've got to see blood for me to get a call down there," Anthony said after the Knicks' loss, via Ian Begley of ESPN New York. "That's where the frustration comes from."
As the debate about the final continued on social media, Howard Beck of Bleacher Report got Foster's take on the play.
"The initial contact was before he started to turn, while his back is to the basket, and then he flings it up" Foster told Beck. "The initial contact is way before what probably everybody else thinks. It’s a push, a slap and then another slap, but we’ve already called the foul on the initial contact. Now he turns and throws it up."
For those Knicks fans lamenting the loss and any hoops fans who would've preferred the more dramatic finish, here is a look at Larry Johnson's iconic four-point play for the Knicks during the 1999 NBA Playoffs.
FLASHBACK: LJ Stuns Pacers With 4-Point Play