Los Angeles—Houston star James Harden’s frustration with the Rockets boiled over Tuesday after the team’s second blowout loss to the NBA champion Los Angeles Lakers in three days.
Harden, the NBA’s top scorer the past three seasons, finished with 16 points on five-of-16 shooting in the 117-100 home loss, in which the Lakers never trailed and led by as many as 30 points.
“I love this city,” Harden said. “I literally have done everything that I can. I mean, this situation is crazy. It’s something that I don’t think can be fixed.”
The season opened last month with Harden the center of trade-demand reports.
The Rockets have reportedly discussed possible trades with various teams, but they expect a big return for their star and no deal is yet in the offing.
Guard John Wall, who arrived in Houston this season in the trade that sent Russell Westbrook to the Washington Wizards, admitted that team chemistry was lacking.
“When you have certain guys that don’t want to buy in, it’s hard,” said Wall, who scored 10 points and handed out five assists on Tuesday.
Specifically, Wall said when asked, forging a relationship with Harden has been difficult.
“It’s been a little rocky, not going to lie about that,” Wall said. “I don’t think it’s been the best it could be. That’s all I can say.”
At 3-6, the Rockets are second from bottom in the Western Conference.
After back-to-back defeats they take on the Spurs in San Antonio on Thursday.
Meanwhile, Kevin Durant poured in 34 points and handed out 13 assists as the Brooklyn Nets rallied from an 18-point deficit to beat the Denver Nuggets 122-116 in the NBA on Tuesday.
Durant added nine rebounds and Bruce Brown chipped in 16 points in a clutch performance in place of absent Nets star Kyrie Irving.
It was a satisfying end to the day for Brooklyn, who were without Irving for a fourth straight game for what the team has called personal reasons.
His return date remains unknown, with the team and NBA reviewing video that surfaced on social media that appeared to show the star playmaker at a family gathering without a mask—in violation of league protocols aimed at containing coronavirus.
It’s an especially sensitive topic as the league postponed two more games on Tuesday because teams had too many players out because of coronavirus protocols. AFP
That brought the total to six postponements heading into the fourth week of the season.
With a welter of players sidelined either by positive or inconclusive Covid tests or because of risk of exposure, the league and players’ union agreed Tuesday to stricter measures on masks, team meetings, and even non-basketball activities.
In Philadelphia, the Miami Heat fielded the minimum eight players—with eight absent due to health and safety protocols.
Sixers center Joel Embiid scored 45 points with 16 rebounds and five steals in a 137-134 overtime triumph that snapped Philadelphia’s three-game skid.