Archives For James Harden

Scott Cunningham/NBAE/Getty Images

Scott Cunningham/NBAE/Getty Images

Alright first off: house cleaning. I apologise for missing a few of these early season games. Please understand that I not only live in Ireland (which means games are on very late) but I also work a full time job (which I didn’t have last season) and that drains a lot out of me, and I can’t stay up until 3 am after a full day of work to watch these games when I need to be up again at 7:30. I also just moved out of my family home into my own place and I’ve been trying to adjust to that too. I start part-time hours tomorrow, so you should hear more from me going forward. I know I didn’t have to say any of this but hey, I just did. Thanks for (hopefully) understanding — GC

The Atlanta Hawks halted their two game skid with a 112-97 victory over the Houston Rockets at Philips Arena. Let’s dive right in.

Dwight Howard squares off against his old team

This was Dwight’s first game against the Rockets since he traded H-Town for Atlanta in free agency, and he had himself a good game. He prepared himself for this game somewhat differently than his Atlanta teammates are accustomed to.

“…He showed up in a nice suit tonight. I’ll let you come to your own conclusions. That is the first time I’ve seen him wear a suit.” — Kyle Korver

Well, someone didn’t watch his press opener… Or maybe Korver meant that he hadn’t seen Dwight arrive to a game in a suit. Probably that.

On the court, Dwight recorded another double-double — his fifth in the first six games — scoring 20 points and grabbing 14 rebounds. The previous two losses didn’t sit well with Dwight, he really wanted to get that win last night.

“When you get outworked by a team for 48 minutes, it doesn’t sit well with you. Against the Lakers, those guys hit some tough shots. That was one of those games where you are like ‘Ah man, we played great defense and those guys made tough shots.’ But then last night, they just outworked us. You can watch it on film. They were going for loose balls, trying to outrebound us, all the little things. You can’t allow that to happen, especially if our goal is to win a championship.” — Dwight Howard

It wasn’t just Dwight that wanted to beat his former team, his teammates understood what this game meant to Dwight and wanted to win it for him.

“We know that Dwight wanted to win tonight. We wanted to play well for him…” — Kyle Korver

Continue Reading…

Kent Bazemore hasn’t gotten off to the start he would like to so far this season offensively, but knocked off the rust just in time for one of his biggest free agency suitors this summer — the Houston Rockets. Bazemore finished the game with 20 points, shooting 7-12 from the field and 75 percent from beyond the arc. Last season he showed improvement all around, but especially from downtown, shooting 50 percent in the first six games as opposed to just 15 percent this season. It’s far too early to begin to panic, but after agreeing to a 4-year, $70 million contract in the offseason, more eyes are observing Bazemore than ever before.

“I don’t think it’s about the contract,” Bazemore said. “It’s about me having another year in the NBA, this is my fifth year. I have very high expectations for myself. I’m trying to exceed them for myself and I may be pressing a little, but that’s human nature, you want to be great.

Bazemore has mostly been known as a defender in this league, so his offensive production has rarely been his sole focus. He has always guarded the opposing team’s best wing player — like a James Harden or Lebron James — but now he’s also being asked to handle the ball a little bit more this season with the departure of Jeff Teague and insertion of a young Dennis Schroder, which may take some time to adjust. However, more responsibility offers a chance to reach his own offensive goals and aspirations. Guys like Kawhi Leonard or Jimmy Butler can serve as an inspiration for someone like Bazemore — both dominant defensive wings who were able to work their way into being dominant two-way players.

“Being a two way player is what I want to be known for,” Bazemore said. “Defense is what got me here and is probably 10 percent physical attributes and the rest is mental. But I want to continue to expand my game as a player and don’t want to be a guy teams don’t have to guard because I’ve been that guy so much in my life.”

 

However, for Bazemore, his optimism stems from his play last year that resulted in career highs in several categories. Houston took notice of Kent’s improvement and aimed much of their offseason energy in his direction, hoping to add more versatility alongside Harden and Ariza. In a league obsessed with the long ball more than ever before, his services were in high demand. Bazemore’s. The decision between the two organizations was far from easy as his relationship with Coach Mike D’Antoni was strong enough to pique his interest.

 

Listen to Bazemore below as to what ultimately kept him in Atlanta.

 

 

At the moment he’s happy and secure in Atlanta under a Budenholzer system that puts him in the best positions to make an impact on the offensive end. The biggest task for him this season is finding a comfort zone off the dribble in midrange territory. Good defenses will force him off the three-point line and into circumstances when a pull up jumper is necessary. Coming into tonight’s game he was just 6-28 from 16 feet to the three point line

His bank account may have changed but the gleeful kid from Kelford, NC remains positive and grounded in what got him this far.

 

“It’s all about timing and putting in the rhythm. Still putting in the work,still showing up, still lifting weights and still playing defense. The shot will come, there is no need to panic”, said Bazemore.

 

Watch Bazemore’s first 20 point game of the season below!

 

The Atlanta Hawks may not be seen as one of the most physically intimidating teams in the league, but their mental toughness makes up for that and then some.

In December, Atlanta battled back to win 121-115 against the Houston Rockets after overcoming a 17-point deficit at halftime. Today, the Hawks fought through a dismal second quarter of nine turnover and Mike Beasley’s best game off the bench since returning to the league (30 points); but once again, that showed the true make up of this team.

“I feel like we are a much better team right now than we were before, said Al Horford, who finished with 22 points and nine rebounds. “We are much more focused, our defense is really good and we are starting to put it together on the offensive end.” Continue Reading…

With how good the Houston Rockets, Dallas Mavericks, and San Antonio Spurs often are, it is hard for road teams from the East to come into Texas and expect any success. The Hawks are not an exception to that, but Atlanta grinded out a rare victory in the Lone Star state, beating the Rockets 104-97. The Hawks now sit at 19-7 and have now won 14 of their last 16 games.

Atlanta managed to pull it out in the end thanks to some nice passing and solid execution. It also helped that Jason Terry completely forgot to cover Kyle Korver during one of the game’s most crucial moments.

While the game started off close, it wasn’t like that until midway through the third quarter. The Hawks had a decently-sized lead through most of the first half thanks to crisp ball movement getting them a lot of open looks. For the majority of the game, the best the Rockets could do was go on a small run occasionally, but the Hawks would withstand it and get right back to business and build up their lead once more. That was until the Rockets adjusted.

During halftime, the Rockets made some tweaks that managed to get them back into the game, tying the game up by the end of the quarter. Part of it was the Hawks just not hitting shots, but the Rockets rotations were much more organized in the second half; when the Hawks started to move the ball, the Rockets were right there to contest the shot. Continue Reading…

FINAL

HOU.gif(23-14) 83 – 80 (20-17)ATL

Key Performers:
K. Korver (ATL): 20 pts, 5 reb, 2 ast, 3 stl
J. Harden (HOU): 25 pts, 7 reb, 7 ast
[FULL BOX SCORE]

The Rockets jumped out to an 11-0 lead in the first quarter, but Mike Scott responded with eight first quarter points to keep the Hawks within a reasonable distance. The Hawks then won the next two quarters 55-42 to take a 65-60 lead into the fourth quarter. In the fourth, the Hawks used a DeMarre Carroll three-pointer to take a 79-78 advantage that they would not relinquish as four free throws from Kyle Korver iced the game in favor of the Hawks. The win gives the Hawks 20 on the season as they improved to 14-5 in Philips Arena.

Reaction grades [assessed 0-10]:

Paul Millsap: After four very rough games for Millsap, he was able to respond against Houston. His jumper was still a little off, but he did get a couple of three-pointers to fall. His four offensive rebounds were very important, as that was one of the keys that pushed the Hawks to victory despite a 37.2% shooting night from team. 7/10

DeMarre Carroll: DeMarre’s night kind of reminded me of Pero’s game against Charlotte. He was doing the little things throughout the game, but he could not hit a shot to save his life. Finally, with the Hawks trailing 78-76, he got a three to fall. 6/10

Pero Antic: Not a very good night for Pero, who finish with four points on eight shots. On defense, he wasn’t doing completely terrible, but Dwight was simply too physical for Pero on some possessions. The result was Pero getting into foul trouble and a minutes increase for Elton Brand. 4/10

Jeff Teague: Teague was outplayed by both Lou-Will and Shelvin tonight. Dwight Howard’s defense probably gave Jeff the most difficulties of any ATL player, as Jeff just couldn’t do what he wanted in the lane. Outside of the lane, Jeff was consistently short on his jumper, which is very reminiscent of how he was shooting the ball at the beginning of the season. 4/10

Kyle Korver: Kyle Korver has been the team’s top performer in consecutive wins against Indiana and Houston. Korver was 6-for-11 from the field and his three three-pointers in the third quarter were huge for the Hawks being able to take the lead. Korver also played very strong defense in the second half, as his digs and activity caused problems for Houston’s big and their guards. 9/10 Continue Reading…

2012-13 Record: 45-37 (8th in West)z-rockets

Playoff Result: Lost in First Round

Key Additions: Reggie Williams (free agent), Omri Casspi (free agent)) – oh and that Dwight Howard guy.

Key Losses: Carlos Delfino (free agent), Thomas Robinson (trade)

Projected 2013-14 Record: 52-30 (5th in West)*

What to Expect: Here’s the thing with Houston. Last year they were exceptional on offense with a very efficiency-driven approach. That meant a lot of threes and a lot of free throws. The flip side was that they were “meh” defensively with the team relying on Omer Asik in his first year as a starter and defensive anchor and Carlos Delfino who was 31. What changed? Well, they got Dwight freakin’ Howard.

Now immediately you think Dwight Howard, top echelon center, on top of this young and prolific core of James Harden, Chandler Parsons and Patrick Beverley/Jeremy Lin means a cemented spot among the top teams in the Western Conference.

Yes, and no.

The Rockets’ biggest issue was their defense, and nabbing Howard to take Asik’s spot wasn’t a huge upgrade. Howard is obviously better at that end, but questions remain about his health with the back problem that seemingly has been bothersome for over a year. Not to mention that Houston really has little help defensively for Dwight, losing Delfino and quite possibly starting Lin over the defensive spark-plug Beverley this year. One could say starting Asik with Howard would alleviate these concerns, and that’s true, but they’d just bring up spacing ones on the other end. Obviously, Howard is a major upgrade over Asik in terms of offense. Continue Reading…

FINAL

HOU (17-14) 123 – 104 (19-10) ATL

Key Performers:
C. Delfino (HOU): 22 pts, 4 rebs, 8 asts
A. Horford (ATL): 18 pts, 13 rebs, 4 asts, 1 stl

[FULL BOX SCORE]

The Hawks, plagued by poor perimeter defense, allowed Carlos Delfino and James Harden to rain fire from outside the arc. Atlanta cut Houston’s lead to 5 in the fourth quarter, but Jeremy Lin’s stout defense and more defensive lapses from the Hawks enabled Delfino and the Rockets to put Atlanta away for good.

Reaction Grades: [assessed 0-10]

Josh Smith: Smith’s strong defensive presence inside was one of the main reasons the Hawks were able to cut into the lead in the third quarter. He never played in the fourth as LD was resting Josh’s sore knee so he’d be available for tomorrow night, but 17 points and 7 rebounds in just 23 minutes isn’t too shabby. He also hit the jumpers he took, and while his shot selection wasn’t stellar, there’s no point with arguing the results. He was 5-12 from the field, but most of the misses, surprisingly, were within 15-feet. 6/10

Al Horford: Horford played a fantastic game as he initiated the offense early and was a beast on the boards. He hit his mid-range jumpers and played strong defense, but like Smith, he didn’t see any run in the 4th quarter. He played 31 minutes, and he was awesome in all 31. 9/10

Lou Williams: There are times when Lou Williams just cannot seem to miss. And for a stretch in the second half, it was one of those times. Lou caught fire from the perimeter and single-handedly resurrected a dead Atlanta offense. He came off of screens for his patented drifting three-pointers, he penetrated the lane for floaters and layups, and he seemed to cause quite a few Houston defensive breakdowns. He was the spark in this game, and had he played in the fourth quarter, the Hawks might have won this game– or at least seen a more friendly final score. 8/10

Zaza Pachulia: Zaza had one or two nice moments tonight, but for the most part, he was beat up inside by Greg Smith and Omer Asik. Both of those guys out-muscled and out-rebounded him in what was a difficult night for Pachulia. 2/10

Jeff Teague: Teague was a wreck to start the game, turning the ball over and missing from all over the field, but he initiated the Hawks second big 2nd half run. By the time the fourth quarter rolled around, he was playing pesky defense, initiating the fast break, and finding open players. He finished with 9 assists on the night, but his 5 turnovers and 4-17 shooting line was the real story. Had he not struggled so much so early, Atlanta might have been in a better position going into the half.  5/10

Continue Reading…

RECAP: Rockets 109, Hawks 102

Bo Churney —  November 2, 2012 — 2 Comments

FINAL

HOU(1-0) 109   –   102 (0-1)ATL

 Key Performers:

J. Harden (HOU): 45 pts, 7 rebs, 2 asts
L. Williams (ATL): 22 pts, 4 rebs, 5 asts, 3 stls
[FULL BOX SCORE]

Well, welcome to super-stardom, Mr. Harden. The Beard went nuts, scoring 45 points (a career high) on 14-19 shooting and 15-17 from the line. Atlanta couldn’t stop him and Jeremy Lin, who nearly had a triple-double himself. Lou Williams had 13 in the 4th quarter, but it wasn’t enough to give the Hawks their sixth-straight season opening win.

Reaction Grades: [assessed 0-10]

Josh Smith: Smoove did play good on the defensive end and showed some nice work around the basket, but again took too many jumpers. (2-7 on those) Asik did play great against him in the post, but Josh’s commitment at times around the basket was a plus. 18 points on 21 shots isn’t going to cut it, though. 6/10

Al Horford: Horford was just destroyed by Asik on the boards in the first half. He did shoot efficiently, though, going 6-10 with 14 points. Him only taking 10 shots (and only one in the first) is not the proper gameplan. 6/10

Lou Williams: Sweet Lou shot poorly early, but showed up late in the game and kept the Hawks in it. His play making off from the two-guard spot is such a contrast from ol’ Joe Johnson, and Lou’s driving ability opened up so many lanes and opportunities for Atlanta. I know Larry Drew likes to have a spark-plug off the bench, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see Lou slide into the starting lineup if he keeps playing games like this. 8/10

Zaza Pachulia: Zaza’s play, like Lou’s, was also instrumental in the Hawks getting back in the game. He had 13 points and 8 boards, which were huge considering the Hawks didn’t look like they could rebound anything against Asik for a while. 8/10

Jeff Teague: Had a quiet 14 and 7, which is great, but he still made some costly errors. For one, he wasn’t aggressive at all; the officials were calling practically any contact on drives, and Jeff hardly drove into the lane. There was also the possession late in the game, where he passed up and open three to pass to… Josh Smith… for three. (which I wouldn’t recommend, personally) 7/10 Continue Reading…

jamesharden1

Well, that escalated quickly.

Unable to come to an agreement on an extension, the Oklahoma City Thunder have traded the reigning Sixth-Man of the Year to the Houston Rockets. For full details on the trade, click here. Harden will likely sign an extension with Houston before Wednesday’s deadline.

Believe it or not, this move does affect the Hawks.

If Harden remained in OKC without an extension, he would have become a restricted free agent after the season. Without the extension, it would be unlikely that the Thunder would match an offer for Harden. (which is obvious, otherwise they just would have given him the extension) With the amount of cap space that the Hawks will have, it is without a doubt that the team would have pursued Harden, even if he wasn’t one of the team’s initial targets. (which are still Chris Paul, Dwight Howard, and Josh Smith)

I’ve got to hand it to Thunder GM Sam Presti, though; he does not mess around when it comes to his team. While Harden may be a great player, the contract that he is seeking would have completely restricted that franchise from making any moves in the future. They are still title contenders and can add more pieces pieces in the next couple of years, but they will surely miss Harden for his play-making abilities.