Three nights ago, James Harden said that he was still trying to find a balance after the Brooklyn Nets lost to Phoenix, 113-107. He finished with a triple-double but shot 4-of-15 for 12 points. He also turned the ball over seven times. Well, a completely different Harden showed up for Brooklyn in Tuesday’s game against the New York Knicks.
Maybe all that Harden needed was to play against the Knicks to knock the rest of the rust off. Either way, he’s the one leading the way for Brooklyn. We’ve been saying all year that Kevin Durant needs help, and Harden’s delivering. He scored 16 of the team’s 21 points to start out the game. Sheesh.
Harden’s strong performance is so vital because he’s been put in a tough position in Irving’s absence. On top of that, he spent the offseason rehabbing the hamstring injury that he suffered at the end of last year. As if that isn’t enough, Harden also hasn’t been able to rely on making his usual number of trips to the free-throw line. He’s been extremely vocal about his struggles.
Seeing Harden shine against New York can’t be overstated. KD’s going to have games where he’s not at his best (ie: tonight), so the Nets being able to rely on Harden is imperative.
Oh, and after going 0-of-6 in last Saturday’s loss, Harden knocked down his 2,500th career 3-pointer on Tuesday. Maybe he should pretend like Brooklyn’s playing New York every night.
James Harden scores 28 points in the first half for the Brooklyn Nets.
Who would’ve guessed that at halftime Durant would have 6 points (2-of-9 from the field) and that Harden would have 28 points (8-of-12 from the field, 3-of-5 from the 3-point line)? No one.
We’re not mad about it, though. It’d be nice if KD could wake up in the second half, but he’s played out of his mind for the Nets in every other game. That’s why he’s an MVP candidate, but tonight Harden’s stealing his thunder.
In past games, Harden hasn’t looked at ease. Although he was a point guard in Houston, he hasn’t been the best at facilitating the offense for Brooklyn. It’d be naive of us to think that all of his problems have been solved solely based on the first half against the Knicks, but he’s showing signs of the playmaker that the Nets traded for back in January.
Harden’s season-high is 39 points and that happened on Nov. 12 against New Orleans. All he needs is 11 points in the second half to tie that. At this rate, it looks like that’ll be happening.