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Harden, just find ways to split the defense
17 avril 2017
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There are few players in the NBA who can drive into the teeth of the defense and score at the rim or find an open shooter out of that action like Harden. The Rockets' offense has been fueled Nike Rodney McLeod NFL Limited Jersey by Harden's brilliance at that particular skill all season long. "As a point guard I have to try to find ways to split the defense. They're switching with the big man and taking our 3-pointers away, so I just tried to get to the basket." James Harden's first 3-pointer was an air ball. His next one missed badly, too. By halftime he'd missed four more from beyond the arc. But part of the reason Harden has turned himself into one of the leading candidates for MVP playing in Mike D'Antoni's pace-and-space system this season is that he has learned to do so many other things so well. "Just being basketball-savvy, you know?" Harden said after the Houston Rockets' 118-87 win over the Oklahoma City Thunder on Sunday evening in Game 1 of their Western Conference first-round playoff series. Sunday night Harden was especially lethal, scoring 18 of his game-high 37 points in the paint on 9-of-13 shooting inside, to offset a woeful 3-for-11 effort beyond the arc. With Harden driving and kicking, the Rockets outscored the Thunder in the paint 62-38 to go with a 31-4 advantage in second-chance points. "The turning point was not an exact moment, but offensive rebounds and second-chance points was what really killed us," Thunder center Steven Adams said. "The bigs, especially me, played trash on the reads, and the pick-and-rolls were absolute garbage. We have to get back to the drawing board." The Thunder had hoped contesting Kenrick Ellis Navy Blue Jersey Houston's 3-point shooters would slow down its historically good offense. But it ended up leaving gaping holes in the middle of the paint as bigs like Adams, Enes Kanter and Taj Gibson found themselves switching out onto guards on the perimeter and unable to recover in time to either contest the shot or be in good rebounding position. Oklahoma City led the NBA in rebounding this season. Sunday, they were outrebounded 56-41. "They just did a great job getting offensive rebounds," Thunder guard Victor Oladipo said. "We have to do a better job as guards to rebound collectively as a team. It's not just on the bigs, it's on everybody to rebound." Defending the Rockets' lethal Black Sean Lee Elite Jersey outside shooting always requires a choice like that. Houston set single-season league records for 3-pointers made and attempted in 2016-17. Some teams choose to stay home in the paint and hope for a poor shooting night. Others, like the Thunder, choose to contest those 3s and dare Harden, Patrick Beverley or Lou Williams to beat them off the dribble.

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