recorderjournal.com

Sport

Harden's triple-double helps Rockets over Wolves 123-118

Share
Houston Rockets' James Harden goes up for a shot against the Minnesota Timberwolves during the first half of an NBA basketball game Wednesday

Along with scoring machine and deadline acquisition Lou Williams, the Rockets have turned into one of the best offenses in the National Basketball Association, averaging 115 points with an astounding 40 three-point attempts per game.

It's gotten to the point where if you pick OKC Thunder guard Russell Westbrook over Houston Rockets guard James Harden to win league MVP, or vice versa, it nearly feels like you're disrespecting the other player and doing him a huge disservice by not giving him the award. His season, while not as historic on eye-popping counting stats as Westbrook or Harden, was fantastic.

Westbrook played in 81 games this season, only taking off Tuesday night's game against the Minnesota Timberwolves.

The Spurs don't have a size advantage down on the block the way they do with most other teams, and the Grizzlies have several players that can create their own shots. James has arguably had his best offensive season and yet as a four-time MVP, he'll likely finish third on most ballots, but it takes intellectual fence-jumping to have Westbrook anywhere but No.1 Like a baseball player chasing a.400 season or a hockey player gunning for 200 points or a running back grinding for 2000 yards, Westbrook's statistical assault has been so relentless it can't be ignored.

Applying that rate to the 10 missing second place votes where Westbrook is listed first produces 9 second place votes for Harden or an additional 63 points for The Beard.

Westbrook had so many triple-doubles this season - a record 42 - that people actually have been belittling them while arguing against him for MVP.

Following Kevin Durant's abrupt departure from Oklahoma City, Westbrook has carried himself with an edge unlike any player in the league. They just happened to have incredible seasons when Westbrook's was even better. Wilt Chamberlain averaged an unfathomable 50 points and 25 boards that year and even that was only enough for the runner-up spot. He now has a total of 79 for his career and trails only Jason Kidd (107), Magic Johnson (138) and of course, Oscar Robertson (181).

Look at what Steve Nash did while playing for Dantoni in Phoenix.

Westbrook led the league in scoring at 31.9 points per game and finished inside the top five in assists per game and top 10 in rebounds per game. The triple double is a statistically arbitrary concept. He was short one assist five times and short one rebound on two occasions. While many expected the Rockets to have a good season, they were a big surprise. Anyone else looking forward to that first-round matchup as much as I am? The Thunder performed about where everyone expected them to, and while that's not necessarily the killer, Westbrook is leading a sixth-seed team.

How can we spend so much time discussing an award in which the victor won't have a realistic chance of being a champion? He added 11 assists and 13 rebounds that night.

How do you not give it to him? Andre Roberson is a brilliant defensive player who will shadow James Harden the entire series. This is just too good. Harden, Lou Williams, Eric Gordon, Ryan Anderson, Patrick Beverley and Trevor Ariza each made at least 110 3-pointers this season.

FANTASTIC FORWARDS: James and Paul George have had tremendous battles in the both the regular season and postseason. Bad shots can result in long rebounds, which result in run-outs, which result in easy points. His high in rebounds was 18 and he accomplished that twice.

"Just play, man", Westbrook said.

This is where the Memphis Grizzlies become trouble.

Harden had the Rockets' high-powered offense going strong in the opening half when he scored 21 points. "I liked that it was against really good teams, and I think that will be helpful for us to determine what our needs are and for our players to have a good understanding of what it takes to win and to be successful". And here's a fun fact.

Furman said it was harder to get a triple double in Robertson's day. The more you know, am I right?

The Rockets and Oklahoma City Thunder will begin their first round playoff series Sunday at Toyota Center.

Share