The star of the game between the Houston Rockets and the Brooklyn Nets was as expected, James Harden. However, the more memorable moment from it was Kevin Garnett reaching a new low in his fading career, headbutting Dwight Howard and getting ejected.
Garnett lasted less than five minutes in the game. He and Howard battled for position under the basket and the veteran big man was called for the foul. He and Howard got into some words and Garnett gave him a little nudge. Howard retaliated while walking away, and then it escalated with Garnett tossing the ball at Howard followed by headbutting him before the two were separated. Garnett acted surprised by the decision, but that was just an act.
That’s life when you’re old on an NBA court. You lose most of the physical battles and then try to show you’re a tough guy by playing dirty. Garnett can’t be the bully anymore, and that’s eating him up from inside. From being one of the best players in the NBA he has fallen to being just an old one that can’t play more than 20 minutes a night, and still needs some rest on some games. Pride makes it difficult to adjust to new situations, which leads to Garnett having these moments that don’t really do him and his legacy any honor.
Howard seemed a bit phased out by the whole thing, scoring only 8 points in the game. Luckily for him, his concentration wasn’t really necessary. James Harden scored 30 points on a night with 9-of-13 from the field and 4-of-7 from beyond the arc. Donatas Motiejunas was excellent, scoring 18 points to go with 11 rebounds and Trevor Ariza carried on with his attempts to fix his awful shooting percentage this season, scoring 12 points with three 3-pointers.
Josh Smith allowed himself to be as wasteful as only he can, hitting only 5-of-15 to finish with 13 points in 27 minutes. The Rockets don’t mind him going up for so many shots when things are going well, but it’s probably in the team’s best interest to have Smith be a bit more cautious in his shot selection. Against some teams, like the Nets, who are bad but still in the Eastern playoff race because of the quality and depth in the conference, they don’t need him to be mistake-free.
Garnett has this season left to play and that’s it, probably. His contract runs out, getting overpaid with $12 million a season, remnants of when he was still actually useful for the Boston Celtics. Many thought he won’t be around to play this season but he came back. Basketball wise there isn’t a whole lot he can give these days on the floor – he’s simply not good enough. Too bad he tries to make up for it by showing “he’s a tough guy” which more than anything seems embarrassing.