It only took nine games for James Harden to crack. Whatever happens next is certain to shake up the league.
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It only took nine games for James Harden to crack. Whatever happens next is certain to shake up the league.

Harden Has Had Enough

Carmen Mandato-USA TODAY Sports

Houston Rockets superstar James Harden spoke to reporters in a melancholy tone. His team had just gotten blown out by the Los Angeles Lakers, and it might have been the final straw for the former MVP.

In his postgame interview, Harden was the most lucid he’s been in weeks:

  • “[We’re] just not good enough. I love this city. I literally have done everything that I can. I mean, this situation is crazy. It’s something that I don’t think can be fixed. Thanks.”

The eight-time All-Star abruptly left the podium after that statement.

Houston has lost four out of its last five games. Harden has failed to score 20+ points in four straight games, his longest such streak since 2012 when he was coming off the bench for the Oklahoma City Thunder.

Rockets point guard John Wall doesn’t understand the dysfunction. “Come on man, you want to jump off the cliff after nine games? There’s a lot of basketball to still be played.”

His mother Monja Willis, who represents him, said this to a fan heckling her son on social media in December: “He is doing the best for his career. He asked for a chance to get a ring, that’s it.”

The Rockets are reportedly in the final stages of trade talks with the Brooklyn Nets and Philadelphia 76ers.

Durant Puts Brooklyn On His Back

Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

The Brooklyn Nets have been underachieving. It doesn’t help that their point guard Kyrie Irving has been on hiatus for the past four games and hasn’t announced plans to return.

Last night, the Nets trailed the Denver Nuggets by 18 points at halftime. Fortunately for them, Kevin Durant stepped up when the team needed him most.

Durant went off for 34 points, 13 assists and nine rebounds, and he hit a dagger three-pointer to put the Nets up by seven with 27.9 seconds left.

The two-time champion also passed Elgin Baylor, Dwyane Wade and Adrian Dantley on the NBA’s all-time scoring list.

“KD is virtually impossible to guard,” Nuggets coach Mike Malone said after the game.

What About Kyrie?

The Nets and the NBA are looking into Irving’s actions after a video surfaced showing the point guard not wearing a mask at a recent family gathering. Nets owner Joe Tsai has become increasingly frustrated by the entire situation, and the organization has expressed this to Irving.

“Sure,” Nets coach Steve Nash replied when asked if he’s confident that Irving will return this season.

Instead of playing last night, Irving was participating in a criminal justice reform conference on Zoom.

NBA Life During A Pandemic

Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

“I feel like I’m living my life in a box,” Portland Trail Blazers point guard Damian Lillard told reporters yesterday. “I’ll go to practice, I go back home. I don’t go anywhere else.”

Such is life for many NBA players under the strict COVID-19 protocols the league has implemented to ensure that play is possible during the pandemic.

Oklahoma City Thunder 12-year veteran George Hill is not a fan of the restrictions.

“I’m a grown man, so I’m going to do what I want to do. If I want to go see my family, I am going to go see my family,” Hill said after his team’s loss last night. “If it’s that serious, maybe we shouldn’t be playing.”

Others have different means of coping. New Orleans Pelicans center Steven Adams bought a worm farm and a microscope to keep himself busy during quarantine.

“I’m going a bit mad. Help me!” Adams teased in an interview with Sky Sports in New Zealand.

Around The Association: LeBron, Lonzo, COVID

Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

– Los Angeles Lakers superstar LeBron James’ no-look three-pointer set the internet ablaze last night. Teammate Dennis Schroder says he yelled “bet a Benjamin on it” when James was about to shoot. James turned to face the Lakers bench before the shot went in; his teammates swarmed him after it sank.

– New Orleans Pelicans point guard Lonzo Ball will miss tonight’s game against the Los Angeles Clippers with bilateral knee tendinopathy. The 23-year-old is averaging a career-high 12.4 points.

– Two of tonight’s games have been postponed due to COVID-19: Utah Jazz-Washington Wizards and Atlanta Hawks-Phoenix Suns. The NBA has postponed seven games this season.

Game To Watch: Nets at Knicks

Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

It’s a battle of the boroughs.

Kevin Durant and the Brooklyn Nets (6-6) will travel across the river to face the scrappy but promising New York Knicks (5-6) in a crosstown rivalry matchup. Kyrie Irving is out for a fifth consecutive game.

From The Vault

In 199 games between the two teams, the Knicks hold a slight margin over the Nets in head-to-head matchups, leading 101-98 entering tonight. 

Brooklyn Nets (-5.5) at New York Knicks, 7:30 p.m. ET

  • Moneyline: Nets -210 | Knicks +175
  • O/U: 218.5

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