James Harden makes great play to get 2 for 1 at end of third quarter (Video)

James-Harden-2-for-1The Houston Rockets turned their matchup against the Oklahoma City Thunder into a series with a 107-100 Game 5 win on Wednesday night. The Rockets now trail 3-2 in the series with a chance to even things up at home on Friday. While it is unlikely that they come back, anything can happen with Russell Westbrook watching from the sidelines.

One of the most important plays in Game 5 came at the end of the third quarter, courtesy of James Harden. With 35.9 seconds left and the Rockets leading by nine, Harden let the ball roll all the way beyond half court before touching it. He then picked it up and quickly drained a three, leaving 33.2 seconds on the clock.

Kevin Durant made a basket on the other end of the court, but Harden’s smart play left Houston enough time to hit another shot before the quarter ended and extend their lead to 87-75. DeAndre Liggins clearly should have put some pressure on Harden to make him pick the ball up, but instead he just sat there and watched and helped give Royce White a reason to run his mouth after the game. We call that outsmarting the opposition.

Evolution of James Harden’s beard

James Harden has become almost as well known for his beard as he is for is All-Star play for the Houston Rockets.

Harden had a trimmed beard during his two seasons in college at Arizona State from 2007-2009, and then he began growing it out while he was with the Oklahoma City Thunder. The beard has been featured in fruit displays and on buildings. It’s gotten so out of hand that even Harden’s mother wants him to cut it. But the beard remains and it has become an identifiable feature. Someone even put together the above timeline of his beard and the thread became popular on Reddit Monday. I bet most people can’t even remember what Harden looked like before the beard.

Photo credit: Richard Rowe, US Presswire

James Harden goes behind back, between legs on crazy crossover (Video)

James Harden James Harden took it back to the playground against the Sixers on Saturday. The Rockets guard went behind his back and then between his legs on a crossover dribble to shake Jrue Holiday on a fastbreak in the fourth quarter.

That’s the kind of move you expect to see in some And 1 game, not during an NBA contest. Who even thinks of doing that on the fly?

Harden finished with 29 points in Houston’s 107-100 loss to Philly. He is fourth in the NBA in scoring. Despite getting fooled on that play, Holiday had 30 points and nine assists as he continues to play at an All-Star level.

James Harden high-fives imaginary teammates after technical free throw (Video)

James Harden has been more than just one of the best players in the NBA since he was traded from the Oklahoma City Thunder to the Houston Rockets before season. Harden scored more than 36 points in his first two games with the Rockets and is averaging a whopping 25.9 points per game through the early part of the year, but he’s apparently also an entertainer.

As you can see from the video above that The Big Lead shared with us, Harden high-fived his imaginary teammates on Monday night after sinking a technical free throw in the second quarter of a loss to the Miami Heat. Either he’s superstitious and has to stick to the same routine after shooting free throws, or Harden was making a pretty funny mid-game joke.

In only seven games with Houston, we now know more than ever why people sculpt fruit arrangements and delicious cakes in honor of the man with the beard.

Kevin Durant and James Harden refuse to talk about Dwight Howard trade with Jimmy Fallon (Video)

For those of you who haven’t picked up on the pattern by now, the Thunder are not concerned about Dwight Howard being traded to the Lakers. Or, we should say, they are not going to show it even if they are. When the trade went down, Durant and Harden were very clear with reporters about how they felt about it. During their appearance on “Late Night with Jimmy Fallon” on Monday, they expressed more of the same disinterest.

As you can see, the defending Western Conference champs are going to great lengths to prove they are not intimidated. Everyone knows the additions of Howard and Steve Nash make the Lakers a very dangerous team on paper, but Oklahoma City is still the team to beat. In fact, the trade may even help the Thunder next season. With the spotlight on the Heat and the Lakers, Durant and company could fly under the radar and begin to feel disrespected. A lack of respect helps a talented team more often than not.

H/T J.A. Adande on Twitter

Fan has frightening James Harden tattoo on his arm (Picture)

People love a sixth man with a beard. If you didn’t know that prior to the 2011-2012 NBA season, you know it now. During Oklahoma City’s run to the NBA Finals, James Harden became the most popular bench player in the league. Part of it was the 16.8 points per game and the clutch shooting, but most of it was the beard. We have seen a lot of Harden tributes over the past several months, but the one you see above that Black Sports Online shared with us is by far the most frightening.

We were fine with Harden’s beard made into a cake, arranged out of fruits or plastered on the entrance of a building. Now, it has gone too far. We’ve shown you some scary athlete tribute tattoos over the years here at LBS, but this is easily one of the most disturbing. Are those bits of toilet paper in his beard? Did the artist quit before it was finished? These are the questions.

H/T SI Hot Clicks

James Harden posts on Instagram that he’s been traded to Hornets, deletes message

James Harden posted a note to his Instagram account on Monday that said he had been traded to the Hornets. Royce Young of DailyThunder.com snagged a screenshot of the message and shared it on Twitter:

Young says Harden deleted the message, but not before the above screenshot was captured.

So what do you make of this? Was Harden hacked? Was he pulling a Reggie Bush?

The team says he was not traded, and there is some speculation that he may have been duped by a trade reported by a phony Twitter account.

Even if this was the result of falling for a phony Twitter report — and it wouldn’t be the first time someone feel for a fake report — it could just be a foreshadowing of the future. Harden is set to make $5.2 million next season and the team extended him a qualifying offer for the following season. He’ll likely be offered a max deal as a restricted free agent, putting the Thunder in a difficult position. It’s commonly believed that Oklahoma City won’t be able to keep Harden and Serge Ibaka after signing Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook to long-term deals, so they’ll have to be creative about their future. That could include trading one of their stars.