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Will Harden and Bettors Both Get Do-Over on Non-Dunk Call?

Brant James for Bookies.com

Brant James  | 5 mins

Will Harden and Bettors Both Get Do-Over on Non-Dunk Call?

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James Harden’s dunk that was, but wasn’t and might be again could create an interesting situation for NBA bettors and sportsbooks.

The Houston Rockets led 102-89 with 7:50 left in Tuesday's game in San Antonio when Harden finished a breakaway by dunking so hard that the ball wrapped the net around the rim and came out, resembling a missed shot. The officials deemed it a miss. Houston coach Mike D'Antoni did not challenge the call. The Rockets soon encountered other problems and the Spurs won 135-133 in double overtime. On Thursday, the Rockets officially protested the game.

Official James Capers explained the play to a pool reporter:

The Rockets (13-7) were pregame -250 moneyline favorites and -5.5, -115 against the spread at BetMGM. The Spurs are — for now — 8-14. The Texas teams meet again Dec. 16 in Houston.

How Sportsbooks and Bettors React to Bad Calls

Per ESPN, a Rockets source is optimistic that the NBA office will take action regarding James Harden's dunk that didn't count, either awarding the win to Houston or ordering that the final 7:50 be replayed because the Rockets outscored the Spurs in regulation. from r/sportsbook

Bettors pondered the fate of their wagers in Reddit forums on Wednesday as sportsbook operators considered moves. FanDuel Sportsbook moved first, refunding $20,000 worth of online pregame straight moneyline bets placed on the Rockets. According to a company email, customers in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Indiana and West Virginia would receive refunds on Wednesday afternoon.

The move was in keeping with FanDuel’s tack. The company had offered bettors up to $100 in site credit if they had wagered on St. Louis after they lost a Stanley Cup playoffs game last spring because of an uncalled hand pass that led to San Jose’s winning goal in overtime.

Yaniv Sherman, head of commercial development at 888 Holdings, said his company is awaiting a final decision from the NBA, whose Replay Center is coincidentally located next door in Secaucus, N.J. The relatively low volume of bets on the game reduces anxiety either way.

"The NBA hasn't done anything," he told Bookies.com. "We get our service from Kambi and we're waiting for that result because if we need to resettle, I'm sure that all Kambi operators will do the same."

Terms and conditions provided by William Hill would deem the matter already closed at that operation.


a. The winner of an event or game will be determined on the date of the event's conclusion. Management does not recognize suspended games, protests, overturned decisions, changes to the score, etc. any time after the date that the event was completed. Management, at its sole discretion, may delay payment of winning wagers if the final score is questioned or challenged.

b. The winner of an event or proposition wager that occurs while a game or match is in progress will be used to determine the winner as soon as the event is complete, regardless if the game or match is played to its conclusion, unless otherwise specified.

A spokesperson for DraftKings said the company had no comment on the game and several other sportsbooks did not respond to queries from Bookies.com.

Bad calls are nothing new in sports and nothing new in impacting sports betting. But the impact is increasing with legal sports betting becoming more of an extension of fandom with the enterprise lawful in 19 states and underway in 13. The availability of endless video replays and social media commentary outlets heightened the profile and reach of the aggrieved.

RELATED: Bad Calls, Mad Sports Bettors Contributing to Rule Changes

The non-pass interference call that victimized the New Orleans Saints in the NFC title game last year prompted local fans to demand a replay of the game that never happened.

But when the Kentucky Derby winner was overturned in May it reminded bettors and sports fans that corrections can be made in the highest-profile events. The Rockets-Spurs game doesn’t qualify. But the game was played under the auspices of a league long amenable to setting the record right.

The fact that the NBA has a history of correcting errors by replaying games makes this compelling.

Will NBA Intervene in Rockets-Spurs Mess?

ESPN reported on Wednesday that Rockets officials hoped the NBA would order a replay from the moment of the error or award a win to Houston. There have been six NBA games with errors laundered through replay, the most recent in 2008 between the Miami Heat and Atlanta. The Hawks left the court with a 117-111 win but it was later determined that the official scorer had incorrectly determined that Heat center Shaquille O’Neal had fouled out with 51.9 seconds left. Those final moments were replayed four months later with Atlanta winning 114-111.

In the 1982-83 season, a Los Angeles Lakers-Spurs game was redone because of an incorrect jump-ball call after a double lane violation.

In the 1952-53 season, a Milwaukee Hawks-Philadelphia Warriors redo occurred, as was the case in 1969-70 after a disputed tip-in at the buzzer. The Spurs in 1982-83 and Warriors in 1952-53 are the only teams to reverse a loss during a replay of a game.

About the Author

Brant James for Bookies.com
Brant James
Brant James has written for SI.com, ESPN.com, USA TODAY and the Tampa Bay Times, among other publications.