Stymied Harden Will Have To Adjust





HOUSTON — It wasn’t the first time that George Karl tossed the kitchen sink at the biggest gun in the Rockets’ holster.

Back in the day when Gary Payton and Shawn Kemp knew a thing or two about playing defense in rainy Seattle, Karl would have just about everyone on his roster throw an umbrella over Hakeem Olajuwon.

So even though Andre Iguodala is a top-flight perimeter defender, the plan was to have constant help coming all night against James Harden.

The league’s leading scorer coming into the game at 35.3 points per game, Harden shot just 5-for-15 from the field (0-for-5 on 3-pointers) to finish with 15 points in Denver’s 93-87 win.

While Iguodala had the head-up assignment of staying with and in front of Harden from start to finish, the Nuggets big men made it a point to step up and show on the pick and roll and power forward Kenneth Faried was always lurking on Harden’s moves toward the basket.

Against Andre Iguodala and the Nuggets, Houston’s James Harden struggled on Wednesday night.

“Iguodala’s pretty good,” Karl said. “But we wanted to put two on Harden and try not to ever give him gaps. I thought early in the game he had some fast break opportunities that we got our hands on the ball and got some turnovers [on plays] that he sometimes he turns into three-point plays.

“I thought Kenneth was very aware and alert to him. We just wanted to put two guys on him as much as possible. Also Andre’s long and gets a lot of deflections. He must have had five or six.”

The Rockets cut a 10-point Denver lead down to 91-87 and had a chance to get closer when Harden squirted through a gap down the left side of the lane. Faried swooped in to reject the layup with 47.9 seconds to go and eventually hammered down a dunk to seal the win.

After his blazing start to the season scoring 37 and 45 points to earn Western Conference player of the week honors in leading the Rockets to a 2-0 start, Harden has made just 13 of 39 shots in back to back losses to the Trail Blazers and Nuggets.

It was one thing for the Rockets to catch everyone in the NBA off-guard by making the blockbuster trade with Oklahoma City on the cusp of the season opener and for Harden to take the world by storm, cruising and freelancing all over the court against the Pistons and Hawks. But that was never going to last once every team got a look at Harden in the Rockets offense and scouting reports began to focus on stopping him as the only real elite level scoring threat.

Iguodala’s pressure and the rest of the Nuggets’ swarming defense also forced Harden into six turnovers.

“Even though we didn’t play well, it’s still just our fourth game together,” Harden said. “As the games go on, we’ll get better and it’s just the fact that we haven’t played together, we haven’t had a training camp or have time to really put in some sets, so we’re kind of figuring things out as we go.”

But the truth is it’s more than that. It’s Harden going from being the third man in the Thunder attack, potentially explosive in any given game, now he has to be consistently potent and effective on every night.

Following the harassment from Iguodala, Harden gets run-ins with stout defenders Tony Allen of Memphis and LeBron James of Miami in the next five days.

“He’s going to have a tough task of being the main guy defenses lock into every night and just got to be really focused and adjust to it,” Iguodala said.

To Harden this is all a new experience. To Karl it’s simply old hat. It’s hard to shoot through an umbrella.

17 Comments

  1. thesniper321 says:

    So Harden can’t deal with double team and we got a blog on it? And kobe lovers are hilarious seriously

  2. steve says:

    First 2 games, Harden share the ball and he wanted to proof to the world that Thunder made a mistake. Then, like what they say with gamblers. It is better to lose the first time then win big.. because Harden is playing so much isolation ball. The ball movement and flow with his team mates are gone. He wants so desperately be the MAN. He stood around wasting letting the clock go down for last shot at the Blazers game. Only to have it taken out of his hands. He is forcing his shots and turning over the ball. Maybe once he realize that sharing the ball will open up lanes for him to become better, then the super star player he is comes back. But unless he realize that one man will not beat 5, he will fail. Just ask Lebaron.

  3. adam Saenz says:

    despite the fact that harden was a sixth man, he should be accustomed to starting in a place like houston. he started in 2010 for OKC he’ll show up every night, if the rockets were afraid he might not, they wouldnt have picked him up. Go ASU!

  4. Big Al says:

    Like Kobe, Harden’s talent has been crippled for a few years having to come off the bench. Now he is a starter, so this is a sign of things to come. His role is now a lot more demanding, but also more rewarding when the stats are colorful. OKC lost big in letting him go.

  5. KingCrossOver says:

    rockets should sign kenyon martin or the birdman or both …cause they need a veteran shot blocker..

  6. bunbury says:

    All 30 teams believe they will get better as the year progresses. it’s probably a fact they all improve somehow but what matters is how much each one improves. you might get better but if everyone get even better then you’re not going to win many games.

  7. Yazzie says:

    faried’s dunks rim shakers in the game about time the nuggets figuring out their style of play off to a slow start but like all teams everything is going to get fine tuned and players on each team are going to start emerging now they need lin to step up and play his game again harden cant do it alone good start to the new season so far with so much shuffling of the players we’ll get to see the playing and chemestry all come together after extra practice with their teams

  8. Larry Sportello says:

    Forget Harden – those dunks by Faried were insane.

  9. Bill says:

    Harden is finding out just how hard it is to be a “one man band” in the NBA. He is an extremely talented player, no doubt. But, when you are the only real threat on a team, defenses will load up on you and it takes true brilliance to transcend this obstacle.

    That is why Kobe is held in awe by so many including myself. He has enjoyed a tremendous career, and his brilliance at his current age and minutes played is in itself dramatic evidence of his “greatness”.

    But go back and check his stats for the 2006 – 2007 season when he was also the only all star on a pretty weak team.

    Kobe averaged over 35 points a game for the entire season, scoring 50 or more ten times. He famously scored 81 in one game; more than any other single scoring effort in the HISTORY of the NBA save Wilt’s incredible 100 point performance. He also scored 62 points against Dallas, scoring more points by himself than Dallas did collectively in the three quarters he played (he sat out the final period of this blow out). Finally he scored at least 50 points in four straight games, another feat topped only by Wilt.

    Give Kobe his due props, he has been truly one of the very best to ever play!

    • phillip says:

      really?

    • Ten Minutes of Glory says:

      Well said Bill !

      George Karl figured Harden out in the very first game. About Kobe, didn’t he famously say “Jesus Christ can’t stop him” ?

      Bill, If I may add, Kobe also played horrendous minutes (often all 48, and then some) … AND HE THRIVED. He knew he wore a target on his back every time he entered the court, he knew all eyes were focused on him … AND HE LOVED IT … HE RELISHED IT !

      Every year, throughout his career, cries went up “Move over Kobe Bryant – Baron Davis is here”, “… Michael Redd is here” , “… Danny Granger is here”.

      They all came to his court, to out-score him, to achieve their ten minutes of glory … then quietly faded into the oblivion of ‘also ran’. Only he was left standing. ONLY HE REMAINS A PUZZLE THEY CAN’T SOLVE.

      After sixteen years you’d think they would remove their hats and lower their gaze … No, the amazing, inexplicable, grudge against this great player lives and breeds.

      Call me crazy, but I would love to see Kobe join a small-market team in the back-waters of NBA, where he could be once again the ‘one-man-show’, where he can once again rub salt in the wounds of his haters by going 50 pts back-to-back-to-back … pay no heed to the critics … IN KOBE-YEARS, HE IS STILL YOUNG – HE CAN STILL DO IT ! That is; ‘after’ he gets the sixth (maybe even seventh) ring at Lakers. Of course.

      But Bill, wait … lets not talk about Kobe. This write-up is about Harden … Let him have his ten minutes.

    • Game Time says:

      lol I’m loving the ignorance.

    • Bob says:

      Against the tough double teaming of………. Toronto? When Kobe doesn’t have a good team and the focus is on him alone, he is merely mortal.

  10. Game Time says:

    Seriously a article again about Harden? You guys kill me at Hang Time. Couldn’t wait to pick on the Clippers the other day, and now you’re all quite about them blowing out the best in the west. Keep hating. GO CLIPPERS!

  11. Harold Mangum says:

    That was exactly what the Mavs did to Lillard in the fourth quarter blitz that shot down the Blazers for the game.
    That is going to happen to many players unless they learn to counter-act. LIKE Somebody is open and one of the bigs is away from the basket.

  12. ko0kie says:

    the MANIMAL!!!!