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#pounditFriday, September 18, 2020

James Harden

Rockets considering protest over James Harden dunk not counting

James Harden dunk

The Houston Rockets are considering a protest over a James Harden dunk not counting during Tuesday night’s game against the San Antonio Spurs.

Houston was leading 102-89 in the fourth quarter when Harden dunked on a breakaway. Though the arena put points on the board, the referees saw the ball go back through the hoop and said the dunk did not count, thinking it was basket interference. Rockets coach Mike D’Antoni says he tried challenging the call but wasn’t able to.

The game was tied at 115 at the end of regulation and went to double overtime before San Antonio won 135-133.

The Houston Chronicle’s Jonathan Feigen reported after the game that the Rockets were considering protesting the game over the missed points.

Harden told reporters after the game that the ball went in, which is what the video showed. As if that call weren’t bad enough, the Rockets lost when Harden was called for an offensive foul at the end of the second overtime. Between all this and the fan taunt, it was a rough night for Harden in San Antonio.

Here was the explanation from the officials:

UPDATE: The Rockets are reportedly confident that the NBA will step in and take some sort of action to remedy the situation.

Watch: James Harden responds to Spurs fan yelling at him over free throws

James Harden

James Harden had a great response to a fan who criticized his style of play during a game against the San Antonio Spurs on Tuesday night.

Harden is often judged for his style of play. Many believe his style isn’t always the most aesthetically pleasing, and some fellow players feel he benefits from officiating. A big part of Harden’s game is getting to the free throw line, where he generally converts at a high percentage. On Tuesday, a fan in San Antonio yelled to Harden that “no one wants to see a free-throw shooting contest” when Harden was at the line.

Harden’s response was fantastic.

How’s that for a response? During his recent 60-point game against the Atlanta Hawks, Harden went to the free-throw line 23 times, making 20 of them. Entering Tuesday’s game, Harden led the NBA in free-throw attempts with 274 in 19 games.

Free throws may not be the most exciting part of a basketball game, but if Harden is playing, there’s a good chance several will be taken.

Watch: James Harden had great reaction to finding out he just missed his career-high

James Harden reaction

James Harden had another absolutely sublime game on Saturday against the Atlanta Hawks, but he found it lacking in just one tiny way.

The Houston Rockets star erupted for 60 points in just three quarters of work during a 158-111 blowout of the lowly Hawks. Harden was a magnificent 16-for-24 from the field (including 8-for-14 from deep) and added three rebounds, eight assists, three steals, and a block to his line as well.

The only problem? The bearded guard finished just a point shy of his career-high of 61, which he set against the New York Knicks last January. Harden saw an in-arena graphic relaying the bad news to him at the end of the third quarter, leading to this priceless reaction:

The Rockets were up 127-73 after three quarters, and Harden surely would have obliterated his career-high if it wasn’t such a blowout. If it’s any solace though, Harden’s 61-point game was pretty darn cool in and of itself.

Watch: Patrick Beverley flopped against James Harden

Los Angeles Clippers guard Patrick Beverley received a warning for violating the league’s anti-flopping rule during Wednesday’s game against the Boston Celtics, but apparently he did not learn his lesson.

During a Friday night victory over the Houston Rockets, Beverley was at it once again, channeling Hollywood as he worked hard on his acting — this time against James Harden. And early on in the game, he got the call he was looking for.

But Beverley went to the well one too many times, and his next attempted flop didn’t generate the same result.

Beverley immediately pleaded with officials over the non-call, but seriously, who was he kidding? That sort of flop was so fake and ugly that the writers for Sharknado 76 would demand a re-shoot.

No surprise, the NBA sent a message to Beverley on Saturday in the form of a $5,000 fine for flopping.

Damian Lillard shares how foul calls make James Harden so tough to guard

Damian Lillard

James Harden is already a lethal scorer, but what makes him exceptionally difficult to guard is his ability to draw foul calls. This is nothing new, but Damian Lillard shared exactly what it’s like trying to defend against the two-time scoring champ and 2017-2018 NBA MVP.

Lillard’s Portland Trail Blazers lost to the Houston Rockets 132-108 on Monday night. Harden went 11/19 for 36 points and was 9/10 on free throws. Here’s what Lillard said of defending Harden:

He’s right. When Harden is kicking his legs or putting his arms out and getting foul calls, there isn’t much you can do. And when it’s already a great player doing that, your chances of defending him well are even smaller.

This sort of playing style is a major topic of contention among NBA fans. It has led some frustrated fans to dislike the All-Star, and one announcer even described it as “cheating.” And for NBA players, you can tell just how frustration it can be to try defending Harden.

Russell Westbrook takes shot at Patrick Beverley

Wednesday night’s Houston Rockets-LA Clippers game proved to be entertaining on many levels.

James Harden scored 47 points in the 102-93 win, while Austin Rivers managed to get his dad Doc a technical foul. On top of that, Patrick Beverley fouled out, leading Russell Westbrook to take a shot at his counterpart after the game.

Westbrook dismissed Beverley’s reputation for being a defensive stopper, saying the guard tricked everyone into thinking he was good on defense.

Beverley was asked about Westbrook’s comments but declined to engage.

Harden went for 47 points and the Clippers lost. There wasn’t much for Beverley to be able to say except, “hey, it’s November. Call me if this happens in the playoffs.”

Plus, maybe he didn’t want to get into it because despite the loss, the numbers showed Beverley actually did shut down Harden when defending him.

Just don’t expect Beverley to make his teammates look bad by pointing that out.

Reddit poster argues James Harden’s road stats are affected by strip clubs

James Harden

James Harden is not the only NBA player who enjoys patronizing gentlemen’s clubs while on the road, but the Houston Rockets star has a reputation for being a frequent customer. Following Harden’s poor performance against the Heat in Miami last weekend, a fan couldn’t help wonder if one of Harden’s favorite hobbies could have a direct impact on his on-court performance.

Reddit user AngryCentrist, a Rockets fan, went to great lengths this week to see if Harden’s performance in road games could be positively or negatively impacted by the quality of gentlemen’s clubs in the city in which the Rockets are playing. His methodology was actually quite complicated. He compared Harden’s stats in road games to his overall stats over the past four seasons and came up with a formula for determining which games Harden was “sub-par” in or “very sub-par.”

In order to determine which cities had the best strip clubs, AngryCentrist used the average google review rating for the first 10 strip clubs in each city that showed up in a Google search. You can see more of the work here.

The analysis is extremely in-depth, and the conclusion is hilarious. The Reddit professor found that there is a correlation between Harden’s performance in road games and the quality of strip clubs in the cities where the games take place. Harden’s best performance, according to the research, comes in the city with the “worst” strip clubs, which is Toronto. His worst performances came in Miami, which has the “best” strip clubs.

Could defensive scheme, matchups, and other basketball factors play a role in Harden’s performance on the road? Of course, but you have to give this guy credit for his statistical analysis. Heck, Harden has supposedly spent so much money at strip clubs that one honored him the way an NBA team would. It was worth looking into.

Steve Kerr has funny advice for rookie guard on how to defend James Harden

Steve Kerr

Golden State Warriors head coach Steve Kerr doesn’t have much better of an idea on how to defend James Harden than the rest of us do.

In an interview with ESPN’s Cassidy Hubbarth during Wednesday’s game against the Rockets, Kerr was asked about what advice he had for rookie guard Ky Bowman, who drew the task of defending Houston’s bearded superstar.

“Good luck to you Ky,” replied Kerr before promptly walking off.

Harden entered play with a NBA-high 36.6 points a game, which is somehow even more than he had in his supernova 2018-19 campaign (36.1 per game). He then proceeded to drop another 36 on Bowman and the Warriors in a 129-112 Houston win.

When you consider the ridiculous move Harden has also added to his arsenal this season, perhaps Bowman didn’t do all that badly on Wednesday night.

Watch: Darren Waller does James Harden stepback TD celebration in Houston

Darren Waller James harden

Darren Waller paid homage to James Harden after scoring against the Houston Texans on Sunday.

Waller caught an 8-yard touchdown pass from Derek Carr that put the Oakland Raiders up 14-7 against the Texans. Since the tight end was in Houston, he decided to give a nod to one of the city’s stars. He did Harden’s stepback jumper as a touchdown celebration:

Waller absolutely nailed that Harden move. He got the Harden after shot celebration too. That might have even been prettier than the Raiders’ play fake that got Waller open for the score.

That was Waller’s first catch of the game. The 27-year-old tight end entered the game with 44 catches for 485 yards and two touchdowns on the season.

Watch: James Harden bounces ball right into his face in funny blooper

James Harden

James Harden had a play for the blooper reel on Saturday night.

Harden was dribbling down court and trying to get a shot off just before halftime of the Houston Rockets’ game against the New Orleans Pelicans. He went up for his shot but had it blocked and was ticked off about the lack of a foul call. So he bounced the ball down, but it came back and hit him right in the face.

Josh Hart’s reaction was too funny:

Harden was having yet another poor shooting night coming off Thursday’s home loss to the Bucks in the team’s opener. At least he has the beard to cushion those tough blows.