Nets: James Harden quote after road win hints that he’s getting better

NEW ORLEANS, LOUISIANA - NOVEMBER 12: James Harden #13 of the Brooklyn Nets (Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images)
NEW ORLEANS, LOUISIANA - NOVEMBER 12: James Harden #13 of the Brooklyn Nets (Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images) /

The Brooklyn Nets almost choked away a win in calamitous fashion against the New Orleans Pelicans, but thanks to the best performance we’ve seen all season long from James Harden and some timely shots from Kevin Durant, Brooklyn was able to hold on and secure their seventh win in eight games.

It was clear that Harden did not start the season off on the best foot. In addition to the fact that his conditioning looked suspect after spending an offseason rehabbing an injury, the sudden loss of Kyrie Irving meant Harden had to reinvent his style of play to make up for the vacated scoring.

Last night looked more like the Harden we saw in Houston, as he scored 39 points on 11-18 shooting and dished out 12 assists. New Orleans might not have the best defense in the world, or even an average one, but it was nice to see Harden take over like this.

Harden was quoted after the game saying that he is starting to get back into shape after a bit of an uneven start, which is a worrying thought for the rest of the league.

“I’m getting there,” Harden said. “It wasn’t going to take long. I mean, this is the highest [level] in the sport is the NBA, the most talented players in this world… It takes a lot of hard work to be playing at a point to which you guys have seen me play at.”

The Brooklyn Nets might be getting the full James Harden experience.

Ever since an October 29 win against the Pacers, Harden is averaging 21.8 points, 8.3 rebounds, and 9.6 assists per game. His ability to pull off a triple-double on any given night still appears to be functioning, and he should start to see his scoring volume increase later in the year.

Harden appears to be figuring out how to be more effective on the offensive end despite the crackdown on fouls he used to exploit for free throws. If he and Durant can combine for 67 points every game, it’ll be hard to slow down this offensive attack.

The lack of Irving put even more pressure on Harden this season, but he looks like he’s been able to handle it with a deal of aplomb. Even if the presence of Durant puts a hard cap on how frequently Harden can go for 40 points, Harden assuredly looks more comfortable lately.

The Nets are not going to contend for a championship without Irving if Durant is the only player that can take over games on offense. Harden needed a few get-right games, and he looks fully back in business.