Breakfast Special: James Harden Plays 2K Out There

Rationality fails in the face of James Harden‘s stat lines.

Even though he’s got Chris Paul back and in theory doesn’t have to be the entire Houston Rockets’ offense by himself, in practice Harden needed 58 points, 10 assists, seven rebounds, four steals, eight made three-pointers (on 18 tries, and 16-of-32 overall), and a whole lot of fans of the Miami Heat left scratching their heads like “how did this game get away?”

The Rockets, down 12 after three quarters, outscored Miami 35-20 in the fourth to win 121-118.

Houston was so depleted in this game that they used a seven-man rotation and played Nene just seven minutes. Harden played 44 minutes in the contest.

Which in turn leaves two questions open.

One, will Harden get to 3000 points? He’d have to average 43.9 a game the rest of the way, but is anything beyond him when he’s taking over as the primary, secondary, and tertiary scorer in one package?

And two, is Harden headed for a catastrophic injury in the playoffs like Lockout Derrick Rose? Because he’s already missed three games with a minor injury, and little things have a nasty habit of exploding.

And just for a moment, let’s take a look at this game on a holistic team level because it has an important lesson in it.

Miami shot 51.9 percent overall and 53.6 percent from three while taking 34.6 percent of their shots beyond the arc.

Houston shot 49.4 percent overall and 41.3 percent from three while taking 59.7 percent of their shots from out there.

Three is more than two. Only you can prevent Scott-Hollins Syndrome.

Here’s Harden’s video game night:

Croating the Conditions for Success

Bojan Bogdanovic, who has been the Pacers’ leading scorer in the absence of Victor Oladipo, had the undeniable pleasure of being guarded by one of the worst players in the league, a guy who couldn’t guard my dead grandmother.

And feasting on Andrew Wiggins meant that Bojan had 37 points and the Pacers got a big 122-115 win over the Timberwolves.

How bad is Wiggins? This season, he has .015 WS/48. Meaning a team of nothing but Andrew Wiggins-level players would win 7.5 percent of their games.

That’s a 6-76 record, and that’s how badly Wiggins sucks.

Meanwhile, Myles Turner had six blocks, but he also had just three points, one rebound, and a sore backside after getting repeatedly spanked by Karl-Anthony Towns, who went for 42 points and 17 rebounds and nearly won the game by himself. Minnesota overall out-rebounded Indiana 57-34 and pulled down 22 offensive boards.

Get the KAT out of Minnesota. Unlike Anthony Davis, Towns doesn’t complain, he just continues to excel on a team he’s way too good for.

Oh, by the way, the Pacers shot 16-of-27 from three as a team, T.J. Leaf looked great off the bench in getting 18 points, and Indiana won despite the referees whistling Turner, Thaddeus Young, and Kyle O’Quinn for a combined 15 of the Pacers’ 21 fouls.

That’s how you win despite the terrible officials.

Bojan is, of course, the man of the match:

The Sixers Have No Quit

Whatever else you can say about the fourth-place Philadelphia 76ers, at least they go out there and fight hard for wins.

The Sixers beat the Thunder on the road on national TV, 108-104, and Ben Simmons led the way with 11 points on 0-of-0 from three-point land, 13 rebounds, and 11 assists.

Tobias Harris was a little less multifaceted and added 32 points on 11-of-19.

Over on the Thunder side, Russell Westbrook had a classic “best player on the other team” night, with 23 points on 8-of-24 shooting masking the wow factor of his 11 rebounds and 11 assists.

The plain and simple of it is that Westbrook, when he guns for counting stats, hurts his team, and he should be shooting a lot less.

The Thunder didn’t have Paul George, Westbrook played like total garbage, and they only lost by four. It could’ve been a lot worse.

The point, I suppose, is that triple-doubles are overrated, so let’s make Harris the man of the match:

After all, Boban thinks so:

Lightning Round!

The Golden State Warriors continue to struggle recently, losers of four of six and of back to back games, one in Miami and the other, a 103-96 defeat, Thursday in Orlando.

The Dubs were minus Kevin Durant, and it showed, as the Magic’s Aaron Gordon went off for 22 points on 9-of-15 shooting while adding 15 rebounds.

Golden State shot just 9-of-40 from three while losing the rebound battle 53-47 and having 10 of their shots blocked by Orlando defenders.

Gordon and Terrence Ross powered the Magic, who closed the game on a 14-2 run to seal the win:

If you’re going to tank, losing at home to the Cleveland Cavaliers is quality tanking.

The Knicks lost 125-118, conveniently blowing a double-digit lead and losing the fourth quarter 40-21, which seems like a Jedi mind trick perpetuated on the hapless Cavs.

The Knicks, at 13-49, are now the undisputed worst team in the East and “trail” 12-50 Phoenix by one game in the tanking standings.

Kevin Love had 26 points, Cedi Osman had 21, Collin Sexton had 22, and Jordan Clarkson had 22 off the bench in an offensive explosion:

And finally, the Jazz went to Denver and won a potential second-round playoff matchup type of game 111-104, handing Denver only their fifth home loss of the season.

Donovan Mitchell had 24 points on an efficient 9-of-19 shooting, Rudy Gobert added 16 points, and Derrick Favors took advantage of Nikola Jokic‘s foul trouble to post 15 points and 11 rebounds of his own.

Kyle Korver added 22 points off the bench, hitting 6-of-10 from three-point range.

When Mitchell shows some shot discipline, he tends to get man of the match honors…like now:

Coming later: That Is He Any Good I promised yesterday. Yeah, I know. It was an executive decision involving traffic flow and some work on another project. I’m a one-man show here.

Stay tuned for that, and thanks for reading!