Rockets need to find Harden to find way

By Fran Blinebury, NBA.com


VIDEO: Blazers take commanding lead with 112-105 win in Game 2

HOUSTON — Since James Harden already has the beard, it might be time to add the big plastic nose and large glasses to complete the disguise.

Then again, he’s already doing a good job of going incognito against the Blazers.

If the Rockets are going to climb out of the 0-2 hole against the Trail Blazers, first they’ll need to put a lasso or handcuffs on LaMarcus Aldridge.

But just as important, they’ll have to find a way to get their two-time All-Star guard (and leading scorer) to put the ball into the basket.

Through the first two games of the playoffs, Harden has made just 14 of 47 shots (29.8 percent) from the field and looked very rarely and very little like the attack-the-basket, 3-point shooting scourge of the regular season.

In the Rockets’ 122-120 overtime loss in Game 1, Harden shot just 8-for-28 and followed it up in the 112-105 Game 2 loss by hitting just 6 of 19. It is his worst two-game shooting stretch of the season.

“I’m not worried about my offense,” Harden said. “It’s basketball. You’re gonna miss shots. It’s basketball, like I said.”

It is a game where sometimes shots roll off the rim that usually go in and it is a game that occasionally comes with ebbs and flows.

Nic Batum and Wesley Matthews are shadowing him whenever he touches the ball and the Blazers’ defense is sagging into the paint to cut off his drives. That’s made Harden look like anything but the cool, confident, high-scoring star he usually is in Houston’s attacking offense. He was over-dribbling. He often looked unsure whether to pull up for a jumper or to make his way toward the hoop.

“I don’t know how much is us and how much is him missing shots,” said Matthews. “But we’ll take it either way. I don’t really care.”

The Rockets have to care if they’re going to resuscitate their suddenly flagging hopes in the next two games in Portland. Because even with Dwight Howard rumbling to 25 of his 32 points in the first half of Game 2 by dominating around the basket, Houston’s offense needs Harden to present more of a problem for the Blazers. He needs to be forcing the pace in the open court, taking advantage of his speed and innate ability to absorb contact and finish plays.


VIDEO: James Harden talks after the Rockets’ Game 2 loss

Harden averaged 9.1 free throws per game during the regular season, but got to the line twice in Game 2.

Of course, the trouble could be the tendency of defenses to tighten down and generally lock up in the playoffs.

The most troubling concern for the Rockets is that it could be a trend more than just a blip. In the last three playoff series in which Harden has played, he shot 18-for-47 (38.2 percent) against Miami in the 2012 Finals, 45-for-115 (39.1 percent) a year ago in the first round against Oklahoma City and now, this.

For the most part, Harden didn’t want to talk about his own troubles, preferring to change the topic time and again to the Rockets’ own defense.

“When shots are not falling, it’s tough,” Harden said when pressed. “They’re running their offense. They’re milking the clock and we gotta go back down and go against their set defense.

“Like I said, they’re a very long team. They’re a very good defensive team. But for the most part, we just gotta get stops.”

Yet they still have to get their leading scorer to put the ball into the basket with some level of real proficiency.

“We don’t have our same flow, our same mojo that we had, throughout the season,” he said. “We don’t have our same swag where we go out there and just play and have fun with. So we gotta get that back. We got to get our own swag back.”

Starting with their top gun.

93 Comments

  1. Wayne says:

    Play Maker
    Could not agree more. I have followed basketball for many years and I have never seen a player benched when he’s having a great game and just completed two plays that lead the other team to take a timeout. If you follow Houston, you will notice that whenever Lin make an error he’s benched and whenever he’s having a great game he’s also benched. During the time of Linsanity, he was used to attract players to Houston. Without Lin, Harden would not look at Houston and Howard would look elsewhere without Harden and Lin. I think Lin know this and this is why he hold back sometimes.

  2. tfs1969 says:

    Harden is one of my least favorite players in the NBA. I call him out to my daughter (an AAU stud) all the time – look how he’s barely playing defense! Look how if he doesn’t have the ball, he’s just standing around, not helping his team. Check out the “air foul” that caused him to flop about like a landed halibut after a failed drive through the lane. Even the look on his face screams no-effort scrub…

    Sure, the guys got handle, but if it wasn’t for bs calls, he wouldn’t be a starter, or a top 10 scorer.

  3. 7 says:

    Harden is a beast n will show dat tonite

  4. Holly says:

    Face it, the Blazers are just the better team! Harden can make all the excuses he wants

  5. John says:

    Fran,

    The problem for Houston is as Harden stated, which is defense.

    Game 1: 122 points
    Game 2: 105 points

    The fact that Harden is going through an offensive slump the past few games is obsolete. The Rockets are not going to score a 130-140 points per game. Where Harden hasn’t been shooting well, others have been stepping up. The Rockets scoring 105-120 points per game is perfect. What they need to do is play defense and they would have won both games.

  6. Wendell says:

    Hardens defense and lack of defensive efforts will be the biggest hurdle to their playoff success

    If he misses his shots = liability
    His defense is probably the worst in nba = huge liability

  7. herher says:

    Just start Jeremy Lin over Patrick Beverly, all the problems will be solved.
    That’s all.
    See you.

  8. Yao_kaka says:

    It’s time to take pills, james harden

  9. Marco says:

    It’s not just Harden , the whole Rockets team is full of hyped up players that r honestly not that good. I mean cmon: Lin? Parsons? Howard?

    theyr are good lets say above average players,

  10. Sam says:

    Houston got a problem. they are simply just not good enough.

  11. okc2014 says:

    Is it possible for James Harden to return to OKC? I saw his feature where he stated he though he would play there (Oklahoma) his whole career. He looked sad about it.=He’s a true Thunder to me. He doesn’t belong in Houston. Come back.

    • Ncue says:

      Who the hell would want to go back to Oklahoma City?! Just be happy your city showed up to support the Hornets when they were without a place to play…because of that your city was able to aquire the Sonics and as a result get Kevin Durant. Enjoy it while it lasts because after this upcoming year when Kevin Durant leaves, y’all will be a lottery team for years to come.

  12. vanLuifer says:

    Why don’t they double team Aldridge? OK, they didn’t know in the first game, the second game same strategy again? No wonder Aldridge is so happy, he can play like that all series.

  13. Ryan says:

    The fact that he is not getting to the FT line is just the fact that the refs are not calling as many flops in the playoffs thus far. Harden loves to throw his body into the defender and flop. His trips to the line account for a lot of his points. He never has had a great shooting percentage. Still cant understand why he is an allstar when he does not play defense, and has never shown up for big games. Must be the beard. Lol

  14. Chad says:

    Houston down 0-2 is all on Harden, sure there were bad calls, sure LA was beasting it but with all Harden’s defensive woes had had he simply bought himself 1 or 2 more buckets to save his life i.e raised his shooting % from sub 30 to say around 35% (which is still awful) HOU would have won.

  15. Chad says:

    Everything in article is quite spot on except the title ‘unexpected play’. It’s not unexpected at all.

    Harden has never done well in the playoffs – when the game slows down, fouls are not easily given and it’s defense that matters. Harden has never been (and will never be) good in those aspects. He excels only in transition, drawing cheap fouls and can not defend at all. Hes 3s has always been very inconsistent.

    These type of players are a liability come playoff time. There is a reason why he was a 6th man in OKC. Harden has certain skills that can flourish in situations i.e coming off bench fresh, against opponent’s 2nd tier team that really isn’t focused on containing him. If he does go on a roll and the other team decides to adjust, KD & westbrook will be back to take the attention off him again.

    In other words while he can go off offensively in the regularly season, he is a very incomplete player and quite a liability as a starter on a contending team with championship aspirations.

    If you look at him carefully his defense is outright AWFUL. Whether it’s attitude/effort I don’t know, he hardly rotates, never runs at the open 3 spot shooter and if hes switched to defend a mismatch on a bigger forward, he’ll simply give up and let the guy blow past him hoping Howard or someone else will do the dirty work for him. It’s quite digusting to be honest especially for someone that is hyped to be the ‘best’ player on the team wanting a championship. It’s funny when you see any scrub on the other team wanting to post up/iso harden when they have the ball because they know even they can score/draw a foul on Harden if it’s him garden them.

  16. BeerMoney says:

    James Harden’s game hasn’t gone missing. He just isn’t as good as the NBA pretends he is. He constantly gets a friendly whistle in the regular season to pad his numbers, but in the playoffs, that whistle is gone and people are realizing he’s a sixth man AT BEST. Leading a team? Yeah right. Harden is a tomato can, and he’s getting crushed. No one that watches basketball is surprised by this at all.

  17. Bball fan says:

    Harden is a notorious no show come playoff time…just look at his stats from each previous year…they go down, not up in the playoffs. It is definitely mental with him and I find it a bit annoying that professional writers continually paint old stories as new and are seemingly shocked that this guy stinks again in the playoffs.

  18. PinoyiDIOT says:

    Time for a block buster deal, James Harden to Lakers, Kobe and Nash to Houston. Big 3 back in action, D12 Nash Kobe, Rockets Champion next year.

  19. Robin says:

    Harden is my favorite player. I’m slowly losing my respect towards him… Not personally but he just doesn’t seem to put on the effort. He keeps talking about getting stop but he’s probably the worse defender on his own team or even in the NBA.

  20. Trayton says:

    The rockets are losing because they have no solid starting point guard and harden doesn’t know how to play defense. Also Terrence jones is really in his first year as a plate averaging double digit minutes. The playoffs aren’t for rookies. Kevin Mchale is an amazing coach as he was an amazing PF when he played in the NBA. He makes stars. Dwight floorishing Terrence is as we’ll. but ou can’t blame the rockets who have three hence players. Weak bench means weak offense and defense when the started aren’t on the floor which is about a 1/3 the time. I mean honestly fransico garciea jeremy lyn and Omer Asik isn’t enough to go against the blazers STACKED bench.

  21. NBAJD says:

    Harden needs to take it to the pain. The Blazers cannot shot block in the paint at all.

  22. Play Maker says:

    Lin is the only true point guard in this Rocket team, he is a play-maker too. Two alley oop almost from midcourt with Howard
    were awesome. Then all of a sudden he is on the bench as McHale killing his rhythm again and again since day one. McHale failed this team. Instead of developing potential talents, he is doing the opposite. Rockets has a deep bench too but he failed it to utilize it. Remember when Lin torching the Thunder during the regular season with 38 points and he was mad telling Lin that ‘we are trying to win the game here”?. I doubt if he said something like that to Harden everytime the beard clanking every shot of his iso plays.

  23. seattlesupersonics says:

    why does george karl still not have a job, mchale is not a very good coach…

  24. nick says:

    He needs some playoff pointers from the man–K O B E

  25. Outcoached says:

    1. McHale can’t coach!
    2. McHale can’t coach!!
    3. Mchale can’t coach!!!, Neither Sampson!!!

  26. lakers says:

    Harden is the Peyton Manning of the NBA..COME PLAYOFF TIME HIS GAME IS NOT THE SAME….HE PLAYS NO D…THEN AGAIN ROCKETS AS A TEAM CANT SPELL D…D’ANTONI WOULD B PERFECT COACH FOR THIS TEAM

    • Trayton says:

      Oh yeah because the lakers have the worst defense in the entire league. McHale is one of the 5 top coaches in the league . Do you remember the roster the rockets had last year? And they still made the playoffs.

      • Dingdong says:

        Mchale is clueless!!!!! He does not know how to use his players. He has no idea what to do at clutch time.!!!!!!

    • Lady Peachess says:

      Speak on it! Harden didn’t show when the Thunder fell to the Heat in the Finals.

  27. Somebody else says:

    If NBA was like NFL Harden would only be on court when the Rockets were on offense and Howard would only be on court when they’re on defense. That’s the more in form Harden I’m talking about of course.

  28. Rock says:

    Harden works as an undercover agent for the Blazers. Thunder is of foresight.

  29. MonkeyDScott says:

    What a bunch of garbage I am reading. Didn’t go very far down the list because of how bad the comments were. These are two very good teams. People forget how well the Blazers play together when LA is healthy. The Rockets just don’t have the chemistry they need yet. They need easy buckets to be successful. In the play-offs easy buckets are hard to come by. Especially when your facing a team playing with so much intensity. The Blazers are actually playing pretty good defense. Go Blazers! RipCity all day baby!

  30. MT says:

    Blazers up 2-0. No big deal. The medias been doubting the Blazers all season, even though they’ve been dominant when LA has been healthy. Keep ignoring the Blazers. It goes to show that chemistry goes a lot further than hype.

    • LakersWillWin says:

      When Portland beat Indiana I knew they were for real.

      I personally think Harden is, pardon my French, over-rated. I have never liked his game. Running to the basket and flailing your arms when you get the slightest hint of contact is ruining basketball. I hate seeing that, and in the beginning of the season he was ranked better than KB24 and Wade as top SG in the league. Watch him crumble yet again in the post-season. He ain’t that great.

  31. alden0813 says:

    let see what happened next games…..go….hrockets…..

  32. jake s. says:

    I can hear Harden quietly knocking on OKC’s front office door.

  33. COWBOY BOB says:

    ADVICE FOR JAMES.
    I read where LILLARD went this past summer to workout with GARY PAYTON on his (LILLARD’S) defense.
    Now that’s what JAMES should be doing during the summer which is going start after Friday’s game in Portland.
    BUT “JUST WAIT TIL NEXT YEAR” AND what has HOWARD been doing about those free throws? Hell I don’t
    get paid KA-BILLIONS and can shoot 7 out of ten from the line.
    The whole damn Blazer team shoots over 80% and “our boy” can’t top 50% and even worse now at the “BIG SHOW”

    BUT JUST WAIT TIL NEXT YEAR.

  34. smh says:

    anyone who blames howard needs a slap. he put in the numbers. that 2 guard- james harden, is not producing at all. plus he may be one of the worst perimiter defenders in the league. fix your game harden. u were paid all this money to produce. come on man.

  35. lol says:

    D12 requesting a trade this summer after the Rockets huge playoff failure, Dwightmare incoming.

  36. ron says:

    Howard needs to get back to the basics.

    Don’t travel. ( remember you can only 2 steps not 4) and learn to throw free (FREE) throws.

    Maybe next year? He has the whole summer to practice after all.

  37. Rich says:

    Even with H-Town being down 2 games. I still have to say they will/can win the series. They are the better team on both sides of the ball. LaMarcus is just on fire, he is great player but not a 40+ points daily .600 to .700 shooter. He will cool down and eventually will even get cold, and when that happens H-Town just needs to hope there are enough games left in the series.

    • LakersWillWin says:

      Down 0-2 and headed to the Rose Garden (or moda center whatever it’s called now) is a pretty bad position to be in. Portland definitely has one of the best home crowds in the NBA. Terrible position for Houston.

  38. edward says:

    All in all blazers will win the series even though they have Howard they don’t seem ready yet at this point in their season…maybe next season but they are a great team to watch but blazers at this point is more set and dominating then houston

  39. rich says:

    Who the F cares, these are the 2 worst teams in the west playoffs. They’re lucky one of them would advance, but no way any of these 2 teams would go past Mavs in the 2nd round.
    Blazers, just like early in the regular season came out blazing, but they won’t be able to sustain their early success. They only have 5 good players and one great coach – not enough to win 16 games !
    Rockets ? not enough experience. Howard – childish, all about him; Harden – Identity crisis (shave off that icky beard, you don’t look special, you look like a tool !); Lin – super-over-rated; Parson – soft; Beverly – out of control, etc…

  40. Tom says:

    Coach’s strategy to play with 7-8 players doesn’t work. Two times in a row… If he is so stubborn, Rockets will lose this series 0:4.

  41. Rockets Fan says:

    Maybe if Dwight would set a single pick and they did P&R he would be able to do something…

    • ron says:

      Howard needs to get back to the basics.

      Don’t travel. ( remember you can only 2 steps not 4) and learn to throw free (FREE) throws.

      Maybe next year? He has the whole summer to practice after all.

  42. John says:

    Go Mavs!!!

  43. theholyspectator says:

    i was thinking this series would go to a 6 or even a 7 game series…they lose game 3, then its a rap. what a major let down as i had rockets beating portland, now im not so sure…game 3 is do or die

  44. J.J. says:

    Rocket doesn’t play team ball and rely on one or two players. There was no offensive flow. Coaches just adjust. Hope they can come back on game 3 and give other players chances to play when Harden is not playing well.

  45. shutthef says:

    wade is a crybaby, wade is terrible, so is harden! none of these players are good, they all just flop, that’s what the NBA is now, just a big flop

  46. Big Al says:

    I expected the Rockets to blow the Blazers out in Game 2 after squandering the first one. I also thought that Portland gave their all in Game 1 and would run out of answers afterwards. Sadly, this did not happen, and Houston are now at risk of losing it altogether having given away two home games already. They can’t let LaMarcus change the expected result twice in a row. Great a player he may be, but he is still no LeBron who can sometimes run games by himself.

    Harden needs to find his groove now; tomorrow or later isn’t an option. He now has the best center on his side, and when they advance (and I pray that they will despite 0-2), it will potentially be the Spurs next, and they were all over them in the regular season. They shouldn’t let this hurdle, in the name of the Blazers, spoil a potentially deep playoff run.

    • ron says:

      Best Center. Howard? Big Al what are you thinking?

      You don’t sound very respectfull to the Blazers either Big Al.
      They just played better ball than your Rockets.

  47. nick says:

    Knew it, Rockets one and done wont even make it out of first round……hahaha Dwight, Harden two losers

  48. PDX Guy says:

    I think an important distinction must be made… Harden is a good scorer, not a good offensive player. There is a difference between the two. Harden can put the ball in the basket but he can’t get the rest of his team involved and makes poor decisions with the ball.

  49. Herr says:

    Houston Fans say “Fear the Beard”. I don’t blame them. I’d be scared to have a guy that shoots 14 of 47 in big time games and disappears on defense be on my team as well. Fear the Beard Houston. Fear it.

  50. beel says:

    dwight should’ve gone to the mavs, a better coach and a better teammates and probably a better chance of winning the championship.

  51. kobe says:

    I never understood why they’d been promoting Houston as a champion in the first place.

  52. OKC says:

    Whaaaa Harden not showing up for the playoffs? Who would have thought?

  53. James Harrible says:

    Many people were right, James Harden is no number 1 option guy in a good team. Constant ref baiting and flopping will not work in playoff games. On the other hand, his lack of defense is greatly exposed in this series too.

  54. That guy says:

    LMfao Aldridge is going ham on houston

  55. chip says:

    Unprofessional and irresponsible start to this article. Baiting a player and then taking it personal makes you look like a fool. Portland is a better, more focused and balanced team. Too much is being asked of Harden, whether he thinks so or not.

  56. Don says:

    Just when I was ready to forgive Harden for the disappearing act in the Finals against Miami…

  57. fartface farts says:

    I think that JR Smith is a way better player than everyone who ever existed.
    I am the best player ever

  58. cables says:

    harden is a defensive bump: go watch the youtube video ” james harden defensive jagger naut”
    he can only play offense, only with offense you wont be able win championship

  59. emza says:

    watz up KD! just want to ask if you still believe that harden is better than DWADE!? reminder HEART is important in basketball…. Harden PLZ STOP DRINKING COFFEE SO OFTEN when playoffs is close TO AVOID BEING NERVOUS HAHAHAHA!

  60. Miami says:

    People still think Harden is better than Wade? If so good luck trying to win a championship as Harden being your best player. Great performance by Aldridge!

    • Carlos Claro says:

      Yes. Wade is overrated. He only got something with help (Shaq, James). Wade is an all-star role player. All he got are those FT numbers.

      • jonjohnjonas says:

        There is no better way of showing the world you’re a bandwagon hater than by saying Wade was a role player in ’06. Go look at the games buddy. Wade was finals MVP for a reason

      • Carlos Claro says:

        FTs everywhere. And since Shaq was so dominant, Wade was free to drive and receive a call (NBA SOFT. Love this game. pff).

        Wade is a creation by NBA and press. Overrated and dirty. A poor man’s Jerry Stackhouse.

      • Miami says:

        Carlos Claro, please do research before giving your opinions. Yes Wade has had Shaq and James, but every player needs a great role player in order to win a championship. In the 2006 Nba finals when Wade had Shaq, Wade did attempt 16 free throws a game and made 13 of them. However, majority of his points came from jump shots and taking it to the basket. He averaged almost 35 points a game. So doing math 35-13= 22, which is a lot of points. When Wade had Shaq, he was 33 years old and not in his prime because he only averaged 13.7 ppg, which was there 2nd leading scorer. Keep in mind that Shaq can’t play in a lot of clutch moments because he is a bad free throw shooter. So Wade basically carried the Heat in the 2006 NBA finals to a championship. Without Wade, Lebron James would have never won the last 2 championships. As far as Harden, the last two seasons he has taken 792 in the 2012-13 season in 78 games and 665 this regular season in 73 games. so basically he has averaged about 10 free throws a game. Now if he averaged about 25 points in the regular season and you subtract the free throws he only had 15 points a game. In the playoffs he doing a lot worse. Wade always plays his greatest when his team needs him most. If that doesn’t convince you, then your just a hater!

    • wadefan-oregon says:

      I agree on your first point, I never saw Harden as being better than Wade. Hardens offensive game may be better than Wades in recent years due the body bashing Wade gave himself early on. But as a complete player Wade wins hands down. As others have said defense wins championships. And when shots aren’t falling you need to impact the game in other ways.

    • Your Floppiness says:

      Didn’t Wade need the 4 time Champ Shaq to get his first, and if Your Floppiness wouldn’t have come to South Beach he wouldn’t have his last 2.

      • jonjohnjonas says:

        lol go look at the games, bro. At least do that. I know you’re a bandwagon hater who just got into basketball to bash on the heat, but at least do yourself the favor of looking at Wade’s ’06 finals, so you can see that it was Shaq who needed Wade for his 4th. Lol you crack me up with this, acting like Wade didn’t intentionally give up his numbers to accommodate for Lebron. Just look at his Finals from 2011. That haterade’s got you blind

      • Your Floppiness says:

        I think you might be a little blinded by some loverade as well jonjohnjonas. I remenber the 2006 Finals and how Wade recieved some crazy calls. And yes I hate the Heat! I cant stand how you can’t watch LeBron play longer than 2 minutes without seeing his hands out and stupid face to ref for a call. I dont even watch them anymore.

    • gg says:

      Wade is old and will soon have to retire, but I do agree, when his legs are in good condition, he’s still great. Harden imo has always been overrated, he’s a good player, but he’s not a great player. Anybody who shoots as much as he does will score. Take a look at Swaggy P, he’s also a good but not great player. He didn’t really get to shoot all that much in previous years but with the Lakers roster depleted he’s given more opportunity to shoot and as a result his numbers go up.

      • Carlos Claro says:

        Still? Wade never was great. He is a dirty player. I don’t know how he became a poster boy for NBA.

        Wade isn’t in the Top 30 of all NBA SGs.

  61. northbrook russ says:

    “They’re a really good defensive team” – The Beard for the Blazers. This Rockets team is too caught up with Instagram, basketball shoes and sports cars. Absolutely disappointing, also for Kevin Mchale who is struggling to devise a way to score against a Worst 5 Defensive Team or stop a post player when you have 2 of the best defending centers in the game. They’ll be lucky to snatch 2 games. Also kudos to the pro writers for promoting Houston as the underdog for a Finals appearance. Looking good.

  62. Ben says:

    I like James Harden a lot, but as an OKC fan I felt before it happened Ibaka was the right guy to keep, and I still do. Defence wins championships.

    Harden can fill the basket (and he will do so in this series) but he can’t fix the real problem with this series – they can’t stop LaMarcus from beasting out on them. They can’t stop anyone. If they double team Aldridge, it will be Lillard or Matthews or Batum who makes them pay…

    Morey needs to fix Houston’s defence woes, and the reality is that having Harden in your team is a gaping defensive hole that is hard to fix – clearly, even with guys like Howard, Asik and Beverley around.

    On the other hand, I love watching Houston and Portland play, and as an objective observer this is my favourite first round playoff battle. I can’t see Houston going down 4-0.

    • gg says:

      “For the most part, Harden didn’t want to talk about his own troubles, preferring to change the topic time and again to the Rockets’ own defense.”

      yeah he doesn’t seem to realize that he is a defensive liability himself. I feel overall this series is still 50-50, the Rockets can probably shoot themselves to a 6 or 7 game series. Meanwhile the blazers already had their funk earlier in the season and are are back in good shape right now.

  63. Shawn says:

    Harden’s a blackhole in Rocket’s defense, enough said

  64. Weiyang Xiong says:

    James Harden needs to step up. He always avoids talking about his individual defense, changing the topic to the team defense. During the regular season, Harden couldn’t stop any of his opponents but could outscore his opponents. What about during the playoffs? If he doesn’t find his rhythm next game and explode, then the series would be over in game 4.

  65. iamironman says:

    LMA is a monster in this game although he missed his last couple of shots. Howard should really avoid foul trouble. I loved how they traded baskets in the 2Q. And truth be told, Harden chokes when he’s put in these must-win situations.

  66. jdub455 says:

    Nah… nuff said… blazers are just a better team!! Lol!

    • eric says:

      I don’t think they necessarily are the better team. I think their coach is better though. LA has been on fire and both games could have gone either way. The first game was decided by two points and according to this: http://www.nba.com/2014/news/04/21/nba-statement-on-blazers-rockets-foul-call/ game 1 could have been the rockets’ and the series a split right now. I know that you can’t blame everything on the refs but a bad call at the end of a game is a game changer.

      • JB says:

        There were bad calls on both ends. The refs missed the elbow by Howard to Lopez’s stomach. Howard would have fouled out before that Freeland foul that went against Howard. So really….it all evens out.

  67. MJ23 says:

    It’s exactly that the Rockets have relied heavily on Harden that they are down 0-2. Harden’s style of ref baiting just doesn’t work in the physical playoffs — that and McHale can’t coach.

    • Ricardo says:

      Precisely.

      I won’t even bother talking about Harden’s lack of defense – that’s a given.

      But the fact that he can’t provide offense either when it’s the playoffs is worrying. As a coach – you must realise that for a player who gets the majority of his points from free throws – isn’t a player you can rely on.