The ultimate rating of Tuesday night time’s sport between the Lakers and Rockets belied simply how totally Los Angeles dominated Houston.
LeBron James, Anthony Davis and Co. jumped out to a 35-14 benefit by the tip of the primary quarter and led by as many as 30 factors within the third on the best way to a 117-100 victory. The Rockets sat on their bench in despair. The Lakers hopped out of their seats to have fun when James launched a nook 3-pointer and turned towards his bench while the ball was still in the air.
So when Harden arrived on the podium after the loss, his normal demeanor and tone did not shock anybody. Houston has misplaced 4 of its previous 5 video games (3-6 general, 14th within the Western Convention), and Harden is averaging simply 17.4 factors and taking pictures 37.8 % from the sector in that span.
“[We’re] simply not ok,” Harden mentioned. “Clearly chemistry, talent-wise, simply every thing. And it was clear, like I mentioned, these previous couple of video games. They simply, from the start of the sport, they have been simply aggressive. Veteran group, clearly, championship group, the most effective groups that we have now on this league.”
The massive shock got here when Harden, who has been on the heart of commerce reviews, rumors and hypothesis since November, adopted up these feedback by saying the quiet half out loud.
“I really like this metropolis. I actually have executed every thing that I can,” Harden mentioned. “I imply, this case is loopy. It is one thing that I do not assume may be fastened. Thanks.”
And with that, he walked away.
Harden has given the Rockets so much. Since becoming a member of the group in 2012, Harden has scored greater than 18,000 factors and led Houston to eight consecutive playoff berths, together with Western Convention finals appearances in 2015 and 2018. He’s an eight-time All-Star and former MVP. He is not simply one of many NBA’s prime scorers — he’s a whole offensive system.
However this is the factor: Harden hasn’t executed every thing that he can.
He did not show up for training camp on time. He flouted the league’s COVID-19 protocols by partying maskless in a number of cities. He compelled Stephen Silas to answer questions about his status somewhat than his first marketing campaign as an NBA head coach. He is not near being in sport form. He does not appear keen on trying to make a connection along with his teammates, particularly Rockets guard John Wall.
“I feel it has been a little bit rocky,” Wall said of his relationship with Harden. “Cannot lie about that. I do not assume it has been one of the best it might be, to be sincere. That is all I actually might say.”
Houston does bear some duty on this state of affairs. The Rockets’ tradition has been, as a former staffer instructed ESPN’s Tim MacMahon, “No matter James desires.” Superstars all the time maintain a good quantity of energy and affect with their organizations, however Houston tipped the scales too far.
That is additionally an excellent purpose why Harden should not be performing this fashion. The Rockets have bent over backward to accommodate him, firing coach Kevin McHale and buying and selling away Dwight Howard and Chris Paul as a result of Harden reportedly pushed for these strikes. Houston is solely asking the 31-year-old to be knowledgeable because it seeks an affordable commerce bundle.
If Harden had reported to coaching camp in a well timed vogue and put his expertise on full show to begin the season, he would not have simply been doing the fitting factor for the Rockets. Commerce suitors could have been extra keen to drag the set off after seeing a motivated Harden persistently drop 30-plus factors on his opponents. The asking value would have gone up. He can be a lot nearer to his objective of leaving Houston. He’s solely hurting himself.
Harden and the Rockets seem to have reached a breaking level, however issues did not have to finish this fashion. It did not need to get this ugly. Regardless of what Harden says, he might have executed extra.