This was never supposed to happen; James Harden becoming a front row superstar in this NBA Season. Instead of standing in the shadow of two huge stars (and great players), James Harden got traded to the Houston Rockets and simply took over, showing he’s one of the better scorers in the league.
The game against the New York Knicks was supposed to be about Jeremy Lin playing against his former team. How well did Lin do? Not bad – 13 points, 7 rebounds, 3 assists. Not really memorable. Not anything like a “revenge” game.
I’m not looking to recreate what happened in New York. I want to be a consistent player. I want to get better. I don’t know what my potential is. I don’t know if I can play any better than I did during that stretch, but I’m going to find out to see how close I can get. I’m at peace with the Knicks not matching the offer during the off-season, and I’m at peace with being at Houston.
The star of the show was James Harden, like he has been all season. For the fourth time since this season began on October 31st, 13 games in, Harden has had four 30+ points games. Against the Knicks, who have slightly fallen off the horse, Harden led the way with 33 points and 9 assists, bringing to a 131-103 win.
There were two things evident from Friday’s game. The New York Knicks’ defense collapsed. The Rockets have size, and that made life very hard for Tyson Chandler and the way the Knicks work. They still got off a whole lot of three point shots, making 17 of 39 attempts. But they were only 20 for 47 from 2-point shots and couldn’t get to the point, therefore couldn’t get to the line.
James Harden alone, with a perfect 16-16, took more trips to the free throw line than the Knicks, who finished with 12-14. Three point shooting is nice, but it can’t make up for everything wrong with your team on a given night.
Harden wasn’t alone. Chandler Parsons had a career game with 31 points, including 26 in the first half, already setting a new career record. Omer Asik, who also got a flagrant from Tyson Chandler during the Rockets’ impressive run during the third quarter, finished with 18 points and 14 rebounds, averaging an impressive double double this season (10.2 point, 11.9 rebounds) and is sorely missed by a struggling Chicago Bulls team.
The Rockets aren’t this good each night. So far 6-7, they’re a bad road team and let us not forget that three of their wins have come against the terrible Detroit Pistons (twice) and the New Orleans Hornets. James Harden seems to be everything for this team: Finisher, leader, point guard, shooting guard, ball handler. Everything runs through him, and sometimes, too much depends on his decision making and ability to make this team click.
Jeremy Lin isn’t the point guard he was during a nice three week stretch in February. He’s a good player, a solid point guard, but he’s not even the best passer or ball handler in this lineup. He’s probably not worth the money he’s paid, but that’s before you think of his worth in marketing value. The Rockets made big moves during the off-season, pointing towards another rebuild, until James Harden arrived.
Now, they have one of the streakiest scorers in the NBA, with quite an impressive streak going for him early on, finally getting the minutes and the shots to show how good he can be (25.8 points per game). The Rockets will need more time to gel and become a real threat out West, but Harden is already a superstar, headed towards his first All-Star appearance.