James Harden could have buried his head in the sand and basically considered the series done after he failed to get a shot off with seconds left and Houston’s season ticking away in Game 2 of the Western Conference finals against Golden State on Thursday. He was bashed for deferring to Dwight Howard who was trailing him and in three-point territory. He was ripped for not having enough “greatness” to beat the D as he had done all game and hit the game-winner. Golden State fans used that situation and the effective trap employed by the Warriors as proof of their defensive mettle and ability to get stops on world-beaters in a playoff crunch time situation.
The Warriors escaped with a 9998 victory over the Rockets after nearly blowing a seven-point lead in the game’s final 80 seconds. Harden proved his elite status again. He dropped 38 and almost had a triple-double while keeping the Rockets in the game for dolo. He just came up a bit short and in the NBA, the perception of not being clutch can kill ya’. To make matters worse, Houston, obviously reeling from the lost opportunity in Game 2, got spanked in Game 3, 115-80. Harden had 17 points and shot just 3 of 16 from the field.The Harden social media critics were in full formation.
Regardless of how suspect it looked, it just ain’t right that some people in this twisted sports world actually blamed Harden for Houston’s 3-0 series deficit entering last night’s 128-115 victory over the Warriors to stay alive in the Western Conference Finals.
All Harden did is show people that he’s more than just a scoring machine as some carelessly label him. He’s a guy that can also lift the level of his team’s play and come up with all-time performances like the 45 bullets he laced the Warriors with on Monday night.
King James isn’t the only elevator in town. Harden showed a will and determination generally reserved for immortals. Following Harden’s lead, Houston built a 45-22 edge entering the second period as they used Golden State’s own aerial flame game against them, hitting 17 of 22 shots and eight of nine three-pointers. Game 5 is on Wednesday in Oakland and we all know that no team in NBA history has ever rebounded from 3-0 deficit in a seven-game playoff series.
However, even if/when Harden loses this WCF series, he’s saved face with his historical Game 4 performance and rekindled the possibility of Houston at least extending the series to six or seven games. The thought isn’t as unfathomable as it was a few days ago when Harden couldn’t get that shot off against the Splash Brothers, who transformed into the Clamp Cousins.
With this victory, Houston’s incredible comeback against the LA Clippers in the Western Conference quarterfinals (down 3-1 and then winning three straight) becomes less of a fluke and more credible. It seems that these Rockets play their best with backs against the wall.
Social media and marketing is such a huge part of a fan’s love for a player. If you aren’t the “people’s choice” it’s hard for your accomplishments to be recognized as regally as more “popular” ballers. People have been infatuated and enthralled with “Chef Curry and The Potcookers” since Steve Kerr took over for Mark Jackson to begin the season. They are an unconventional, fast-paced, gunner squadron and a product of today’s reliance on the three-point shot. Curry gives every 6-foot-2 kid with a jumper and some handle the hopes of becoming the NBA’s next mad-bomber. The King James-Curry posts and sports segments are already in full swing and the Warriors haven’t even finished the Rockets off yet.
Looks like Harden is taking a page out of Jay-Z’s book and finishing his breakfast. Looks like the Chef, who took a nasty fall on Monday night after dropping his own 40-point barrage in Game 3, will have to serve up another dish of destruction to finally close this series out and embark on the realest and toughest task of his blossoming career.