Houston Rockets star James Harden’s frustration with his team boiled over on Tuesday after the team’s second blowout loss to NBA champions the 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.”
Photo: Troy Taormina-USA Today
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, said 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 that forging a relationship with Harden had 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.
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.
Durant added nine rebounds and Bruce Brown chipped in 16 points in a clutch performance in place of absent Nets star Kyrie Irving.
Brown’s jump shot, off a feed from Durant, knotted the score at 113-113 with 2 minutes, 16 seconds left to play. He followed with a floater that put the Nets ahead for good.
Durant scored the Nets’ next six points as Brooklyn put it away, denying the Nuggets a sweep on their three-game road trip.
Nikola Jokic had 23 points, 11 assists and eight rebounds for Denver, but they were outscored by the Nets 68-46 in the second half.
It was a satisfying end to the day for Brooklyn, who were without Irving for a fourth straight game for what the team has said are 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 contravention of league protocols aimed at containing COVID-19.
With a welter of players sidelined either by positive or inconclusive COVID-19 tests, or because of risk of exposure, the NBA and players’ union on Tuesday agreed to stricter measures on masks, team meetings and even non-basketball activities.
Meanwhile, the Miami Heat fielded the minimum eight players — with eight absent due to health and safety protocols — in a 137-134 overtime loss to the Philadelphia 76ers.
Sixers center Joel Embiid scored 45 points with 16 rebounds and five steals.
Embiid’s jump shot with 4.3 seconds remaining in regulation tied it up at 120-120 and he scored the 76ers first nine points in overtime.
Danny Green drained a career-high nine three-pointers on the way to 29 points for the 76ers, bouncing back from a none-for-nine shooting performance in a loss to Atlanta on Monday.
Philadelphia coach Doc Rivers said he hoped the new guidelines would keep the number of COVID-19 cases in the NBA at a minimum and the season on track.
“All I can do is hope,” Rivers said. “Listen, we are not in a bubble ... we are in cities. So we just have to do our best, everyone.”
In other games on Tuesday, it was:
‧ Jazz 117, Cavaliers 87
‧ Spurs 112, Thunder 102
‧ Pacers 104, Warriors 95
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