No, this is not an excuse for how flat-footed and slow his defense has been this season.
However it appears James Harden is hurt — he is day-to-day with a bruised foot tweets Jonathan Feigen of the the Houston Chronicle. Those tend not to keep people out long if at all, and against the Lakers he certainly was aggressive and attacking when he had the ball.
The Rockets play the Clippers Saturday in a rematch of last Monday’s game where Harden was a defensive mess — he was assigned to J.J. Redick early and the Clippers ran Redick off screens like he was vintage Ray Allen. Harden didn’t even try to fight through them. Redick ended up with 15 points in the first quarter and 26 for the game as the Clippers cruised to a win.
Announcement: Pro Basketball Talk’s partner FanDuel is hosting a one-day $25,000 Fantasy Basketball league for Friday, Nov. 8th games. It’s just $10 to join and first prize is $3,500. Starts at 7pm ET on Friday. Here’s the link.
Harden’s defense has been pretty bad all season, and it’s something the Rockets have to fix if they are serious about contending. Right now he is just reaching, not moving his feet. On offense he looks fine, he’s attacking and making plays. But to really take this team where they want to go Harden has to be better at both ends.
China has secured the ninth and final Olympic men’s basketball berth awarded this year.
China earned the bid to the 2016 Rio Games with a 78-67 win over the Philippines. 2016 first-round draft prospect Qi Zhou had 16 points and 14 rebounds, setting up the Olympics to be his big introduction to American fans.
Former NBA player Yi Jianlian won tournament MVP by averaging 16.7 points, 8.8 rebounds, 1.4 assists and 1.2 blocks per game.
This will be China’s ninth straight Olympic appearance.
The Philippines, who got 17 points from Andray Blatche in the final, will still go to an Olympic Qualifying Tournament next summer with a chance to reach Rio.
Carmelo Anthony can flat-out score the rock — that has never been the question. Even hurting last season for many of the 40 games he played, he averaged 24.2 points a game, had a true shooting percentage of 53.1 percent (right near the league average) while having the entire weight of the Knicks offense on his shoulders (32.2 usage rate, fifth highest in the NBA). When people (or players) talk about him being overrated, the discussion turns to defense or if he makes his teammates better. But there should be no doubt Anthony is an elite scorer.
He thinks he will be for a while longer — like another five years. Via Ian Begley of ESPN:
In fact, the 31-year-old Knicks star is confident that he can play at a high level for the next “four or five years.”
“Without a doubt. Without a doubt,” Anthony said after the Knicks’ final training camp practice on Saturday.
The Knicks better hope that’s true, they already made that bet with that massive five-year contract they gave him last summer.
Anthony’s age combined with him coming off knee surgery have a lot of people — myself included — expecting him to take a step back. Not a big one, but he is coming up at the point in his career where some open shots he used to get are now contested because he’s half-a-step slower, and some of those looks don’t fall as often. His jumper isn’t suddenly going to look like Rajon Rondo‘s, ‘Melo is going to get his points, but he may not be as efficient.
Fortunately, the Knicks have an improved supporting cast around him this season. That should take some offensive load off his shoulders, and maybe the Knicks offense will see better ball movement and start to resemble the triangle. If it’s just more isolation Anthony, it’s not going to be pretty.