Did the real James Harden stand up Sunday night against Cleveland? If so, I’m guessing that was him treating J.J. Hickson like the newspaper at the bottom of a bird cage.
The Beard played with purpose and without fear in what was, along with his 23-point outing Nov. 20 in Milwaukee with Kevin Durant on the bench, one of his signature performances of the season for him thus far. Harden played decisively on both ends of the floor, moved the ball, maintained a good energy level in a blowout and provided the scoring punch off the bench that Oklahoma City sorely needs.
In short, Harden played like the guy the Thunder thought it was getting at the No. 3 spot in the 2009 NBA Draft, and he did it within the current role he has on the team. And, perhaps not coincidentally, Oklahoma City finally had the laugher win over a bad team that contending squads are supposed to have often.
Harden’s stat line stands out: 6-8 shooting, including 2-3 from behind the arc. Three assists against one turnover. Twenty-one minutes. Three dimes and three boards for good measure. He can’t be expected to shoot percentages quite that high on a nightly basis, but the way he played, and the way Oklahoma City played with him, makes you think that the player everyone hopes he can be could be a little closer to appearing on a more regular basis. Keep Reading…