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Time To Fear The Beard, Houston!
Posted By Bill Ingram On November 2, 2012 @ 10:41 pm In All,NBA | No Comments
This is what the Houston Rockets have been missing for years, ever since Yao Ming started missing long stretches of games with foot injuries.
Houston fans have known it, too, even if they haven’t put it in so many words. They have seen team after team make great plays and stay tough down the stretch of games, often falling short by a basket or two, a mere handful of points making the difference between a playoff berth and a trip to the lottery.
What the Rockets have been missing is a closer.
Every great team has one. In fact, every playoff team has one. It’s that one player who shrugs off the toughest of defensive schemes to make basket after basket to pull his team ahead for a win. The Oklahoma City Thunder have Kevin Durant, the Miami HEAT have LeBron James, the Dallas Mavericks have Dirk Nowitzki and the Houston Rockets have James Harden.
It’s early, of course, and there is a lot of basketball to be played, but through two games the Rockets have had a presence that left the team when Yao retired.
Harden scored 37 points in Houston’s season-opener against the Detroit Pistons, and in his encore performance he was even better. Unlike the Pistons, the Atlanta Hawks fought back from a 14-point deficit to take the lead late in the fourth quarter. That’s when Harden put the team on his back and scored 18 of his career-high 45 points in the final frame.
Harden didn’t do it alone, of course, but then the Rockets have never been a team to stand around and watch. Jeremy Lin had 21 points, 10 rebounds and seven assists, Omer Asik chipped in a career-high 19 rebounds and Marcus Morris scored a career-high 17 points off the bench.
It’s only two wins, and two early wins at that, but the manner in which the Rockets have won their first two games gives Houston fans reason to hope that there are finally good times ahead. If Harden can continue to play the way he has played in his first two games, the Rockets could be very much in the Western Conference playoff discussion.
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