Refreshing the four-day forced quarantine, in which weeks after his desire to dominate the headlines, Houston Rockets superstar James Harden had a performance Saturday night that reminded people why he is a perennial MVP candidate .
It was not enough to carry a very short-handed Houston team, missing the six players due to positive COVID-19 tests and contact tracing in the Rockets’ delayed openers victory.
Harden had 44 points and 17 assists while playing 43 minutes in a 128–126 overtime loss to the host Portland Trail Blazers. The only flaw in Hardik’s line in the box score was his four turnovers, including one in the final seconds that sealed the defeat, when the Blazers pushed forward Robert Covington and Harden tore down the lane and a teammate Tried to dish out.
“It was all right,” Harden said of his performance, which included shooting 12-of-22 from the floor and 6-13 from 3-point range. “A lot of turnovers. But other than that, the first game 40-something minutes, I think my conditioning could be better, obviously, but it was pretty solid. I think we let them get away from us. “
The Rockets’ season opener was scheduled for Wednesday as there were no minimum eight players available in Houston. The NBA ruled that Hardik was unavailable for the game due to a violation of the league’s health and safety protocol by attending a private indoor party on Monday, which resulted in Harden being fined $ 50,000.
The Rockets traveled to Oregon with only nine players. New starting point guards John Wall and the Rockets’ three best bench players – Eric Gordon, DeMark Cousins and Ben Macklemore – are among the Houston players currently in quarantine.
“I am proud of the way we struggled,” Rockets coach Stephen Silas said. “We obviously have some things that we need to clean up. But overall, I’m very proud of this group and how they fought in these circumstances.”
Harden eliminated any doubt on the court as the Rocket’s front office patiently searches the trade market in search of a package that represents a fair price for a historically elite player in its prime.
Harden went on to dominate as a distributor – giving dish to seven of his assassins to center Christian Wood, who had 31 points and 13 rebounds in his Rockets ‘start – while the Blazers’ scoring duel with shooting guard CJ McCallum Were entangled in As Harden said, McCallum “caught fire” after a slow start, with 44 points, on 17-of-30 shooting.
McCullum scored 3 runs with 6.9 seconds left in overtime, which proved to be the winner when Hardik failed to make a shot at the final possession. Harden had hit the pair of step-back 3s of the competition – the first to tie the score, the second to take the lead – on the Rockets’ last two possessions.
“James is really good,” McCollum said. “Regardless of what James does in his spare time, James is really good at f — basketball. Like, he’s really good.”