I was watching the recent Houston Rockets game last night and given the recent James Harden hubbub about his total lack of defensive intensity and wherewithal , I simply had to put pen to paper so to speak. Though the Rockets finally over ran and won against the depleted New Orleans Pelicans, I couldn’t help but notice a number of things
You don’t have to be Einstein to come to the conclusion that this team has major chemistry issues. Scoring and defending both.
Probably just as clear to many, is that one man is almost solely responsible for the present problems. That may seem a little hyperboleish or even melodramatic, but I think it’s true.
Like a sun ray beaming through a misty cloud formation, it became clear to me that the other Rockets don’t enjoy playing with Harden anymore, and some simply don’t want to anymore. Other than Corey Brewer, the lack of sustained effort is palpable and the looks of resignation damning. Particularly when watching Harden jack another step back jumper after holding the ball for 10 seconds.
I may be stating the obvious, and others here may have noticed this too, but there was a moment in this game that crystallised everything for me. Now, I’m going from memory here but the gist of it is, James Harden had the ball and drove to the basket, like he does 30-40 other times every game.
This time was different though.
After missing, he went up for the rebound at the same time that Anthony Davis did, they got tangled up and both fell hard to the ground under the basket. Davis seemed to land awkwardly across Hardens lower legs. He came up holding his sore shoulder too. It could have been more serious and fortunately wasn’t, but what I noticed and Im certain Harden noticed this too, was NOT ONE SINGLE teammate went over to the Beard to help him up. He was on the ground for what seemed an eternity, almost pleading for some one to help him up.
There was no one.
He looked staggered and bewildered. Harden’s bodyguards hadn’t come to his aid, they didn’t care anymore.
It seemed odd.
Patty Mills, the great Australian sparkplug and former title holder for best towel waver in the NBA, would bolt like the ‘Flash’ to help up any teammate every single time they went to ground. The Warriors players would do the same, as would the Hawks and every other good team. That’s what they do. It’s what winning teams do. They are in it together, one man side by side with the others taking on all comers.
It’s the little things that make a difference at the top. The Rockets just don’t have that.
Someone much smarter than me once said:
“a picture paints a thousand words”
Well this picture shouted loudly from the roof tops:
“we are fed up!”
“you think you are the man, you think you can do it alone, well have at it”
Did James see what I saw in that moment?
If he did, I wonder how it made him feel?
That moment of solitude on the hardwood floor, may be just the catalyst needed to turn things around for the Rockets.