You can’t have much better performances than the one James Harden had for the Houston Rockets in their comfortable win over the Cleveland Cavaliers, making the most of being the one who gets to touch the ball on every possession. Jeremy Lin didn’t get the “quality” minutes, and didn’t do his usual point-guarding stuff with the moments given to him, focusing on putting point on the boards.
Harden led the Rockets to a 118-111 win over the Cleveland Cavaliers, in a game that wasn’t actually that close. The Cavs surged back in the fourth quarter (32-17), but it wasn’t enough for Houston to call back Harden from the bench, not spending a single second on the court during the final quarter.
It didn’t stop Harden from having a huge 37 points, 11 assists game. He shot 9-of-15 from the field, 5-of-8 from beyond the arc and 14-of-14 from the free throw line, accomplishing all of that in 29 minutes. He is the first player since Antoine Walker on Jan. 17, 2001 against the Kings to have a 37-11 night while playing only three quarters.
The Rockets had plenty of opportunities in the open floor which meant chances for Harden to score in the paint or pull up for 3’s when everyone expects something else as he loves so much. It didn’t come as an act of some wonderful setting up from his teammates. Harden is the judge, jury and executioner for the Houston Rockets. When it works, he looks like an All-NBA first team player. When it doesn’t, it makes his head coach look clueless.
The Rockets keep playing without Dwight Howard, and Omer Asik is doing a good job in his place. He isn’t the kind of guy who’ll fill up the stat sheets with points, but with 9 points and 9 rebounds while Harden makes up for it willingly (he hasn’t seen a shot he hasn’t liked), it’s not such a bad backup center to have.
It was a good game for Chandler Parsons, playing more than anyone, scoring 16 points to go with six assists. Patrick Beverley scored 15, Terrence Jones added 14 points and the Rockets finished with six guys in double figures, including Donatas Motiejunas (11) and Jeremy Lin providing some firepower from the bench.
Lin didn’t have the best of games, despite his 13 points in 26 minutes, because Lin at his best isn’t about the scoring. He shot only 3-of-11 from the field and just couldn’t hit open 3’s, finishing with 1-of-5. He did very well from the line at 6-of-6, showing that he can do just as well as Harden when he focuses on penetrating against the awful Cavs defense, only the ball isn’t in his hands as much, especially when Harden is playing and everyone needs to spread and hope for the star player to notice them.
There’s not much to complain about when Harden scores 28 points or more in three out of the last four games. Having a player like that can finish games out of nowhere, especially against pretty much broken teams like the Cleveland Cavaliers. But as we love to warn the Rockets (and we’re sure they’re not really paying attention), putting all your hopes in the two hands of just one player who has quite the selfish streak to his name, while a very capable point guard like Jeremy Lin continues to get misused on a regular basis for no apparent reasons, might lead to disappointing results against rougher opponents.