It was an unsual ending in Houston.
The Rockets had the ball down two to the Wizards with :04 seconds left and, as you would expect, Houston wanted to get the ball to James Harden coming out high off a Dwight Howard screen — except Trevor Ariza hooked Harden’s arm, knocking him to the ground before the ball was inbounded for a foul (there was a little grabbing both ways on that play, Wizards fans are pretty bitter about it saying Harden clamped Ariza, and Phil Jackson agreed on twitter, but I think it’s a good call). That was a huge mistake for Washington, and not just because Ariza fouled out. A foul before the ball was inbounded meant Harden got one free throw and the Rockets got the ball out of bounds.
Now after the made free throw the Rockets were down one still with :04 seconds, and you knew they would run something similar to get Harden the ball and a shot at the win.
You didn’t expect that shot to be a lay-up. That’s the video you see above.
Harden popped out to the top of the key off a Howard screen again, caught the ball and had plenty of room for a wide open jumper. He also had a lane to the basket as John Wall was still trying to fight over Howard’s pick, while Howard’s man was so deep (middle of the paint) and rooted to the ground that Harden could drive, Eurostep around him and be right at the rim. It was just terrible defense by the Wizards.
And a sweet shot by Harden.
With that shot the Rockets go into the All-Star break on a seven game win streak.
During the 2014-15 season, Rockets star James Harden said the Warriors “ain’t even that good.”
Golden State went on to reach the last three NBA Finals, twice beating Houston in the playoffs, and win two championships.
The Rockets have since re-tooled around Harden, Chris Paul and several quality role players and are in first place. Houston looks like the biggest threat to the Warriors in the Western Conference.
Rockets center Clint Capela on the Warriors, via Dave Schilling of Bleacher Report:
“I expect to beat them,” Capela says.
That’s a fine sentiment. Saying it publicly is another matter. Not even Harden did that a couple years ago. He was recorded during a pregame team huddle.
There’s a fine line between self-fulfilling confidence and providing bulletin-board material to the opponent. There’s already some animosity between the teams stemming from the Stephen Curry-Harden MVP race in 2015, and it has bubbled since. No matter how harmless Capela’s remark might have been intended to be, it’ll be met contentiously in the Bay Area.
Oklahoma City traded for Victor Oladipo out of Orlando to be their third scorer, behind Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook. It didn’t exactly work out that way, Durant bolted town and when Westbrook went off Oladipo was looking for a place to fit in.
That place turned out to be the Pacers.
Oladipo has been playing like an All-Star this season with Indiana, and last week he was key in snapping Cleveland’s 13 game win streak, then turned around and dropped 47 points on Denver. For the week he averaged 35.7 points a game, shot 45.7 percent from three, plus grabbed 7.7 rebounds per game.
That will get you named the PBT Extra Player of the Week.
Paul George – who told the Pacers he’d leave in free agency, prompting them to trade him to the Thunder – expected boos in his return to Indiana.
Pacers fans delivered.
They’ve also booed him every time he has touched the ball, which will certainly persist.
WASHINGTON (AP) — Point guard John Wall was in the Washington Wizards’ lineup Wednesday night against the Memphis Grizzlies after missing nine games with a sore left knee.
Coach Scott Brooks said Wall would play in the mid-20-minute range, perhaps a bit more.
The Wizards (14-13), currently in first place in the Southeast Division, went 4-5 in Wall’s absence.
“He such a force offensively,” Brooks said of Wall. “He’s a two-way player and he’s one of the few guys in the league that can find open 3-point shooters going 100 miles an hour in transition.”
Wall, 27, is averaging 20.3 points and 9.2 assists per game.