James Harden admits he needs to be better on defense. It’s a start, I guess.

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The first step to a cure is admitting there is a problem.

Harden knows his defense has become the second most talked about thing when his name comes up, right after the beard but often in front of his prodigious offensive talents (at least in basketball circles). He also knows that the Rockets added one of the best defensive centers in the game last year in Dwight Howard and yet the Rockets defense was basically flat with the season before (in terms of points allowed per possession). He knows that if the Rockets are going to take a step forward this season and go deeper in the playoffs, it starts with defense.

And he knows that you have to be the change you want to see. So Harden talked defense at the Rockets’ media day.

You can say “those are just words” but it’s media day, there are only words.

We’ll all be watching the actions. We’re all skeptical, because we saw him with Team USA and….

The fact is the Rockets should be better on defense, they have Patrick Beverley at the point, Trevor Ariza on the wing and Howard in the paint (although they will miss Omer Asik as a backup). It’s guys like Terrence Jones, Harden and Jason Terry buying in and playing focused, hard team defense that will be the key.

The Rockets are adding assistant coach and defensive specialist T.R. Dunn to McHale’s staff to help here.

If not… well, Harden’s not paying the price. The stars never do. The seat that gets hot belongs to coach Kevin McHale.