NBA

Harden unsurprised by performance on Nets return: Not to brag, but I'm really good at this game

By Sports Desk May 12, 2021

Brooklyn Nets superstar James Harden was left unsurprised by how quickly he adjusted on his return to the NBA, saying "not to brag or anything, but I'm really good at this game".

Harden made his long-awaited comeback from a hamstring injury that sidelined him since April 5, the former MVP posting a double-double as the Nets beat the San Antonio Spurs 128-116 on Wednesday.

Coming off the bench, Harden finished with 18 points on two-for-eight shooting, 11 assists, two steals and two blocks in 26 minutes against the Spurs midweek.

"Not really," Harden replied when asked whether he was surprised by his performance. "Not to brag or anything, but I'm really good at this game. I study the game, I'm very unselfish.

"I take the game and I play it the right way every single night. I don't try to do anything I can't do or anything that doesn't benefit our team. That mindset keeps me in a really good place."

Harden returned from the longest injury lay-off of his stellar career, having missed 18 games for the star-studded Nets, who are eyeing their maiden NBA championship.

It was the first time Harden came off the bench in an NBA game since the 2011-12 season with the Oklahoma City Thunder, winning the Six Man of the Year Award that campaign.

"That sixth man role, I've mastered that as well. You know, I've got an award for that role. That role is easy, coming out and impacting the game. Doing whatever it takes to win -- whether its offensively or defensively," Harden said as the Nets moved to 46-24 for the season to remain second behind the Philadelphia 76ers in the Eastern Conference.

"But that's my role no matter what. Especially on this team -- not necessarily scoring all the time when I don't need to. Communicating, being the leader on the floor, making sure guys are in their right positions defensively. And these last few games, we've been better."

After the Nets improved to 28-7 when Harden plays, the nine-time All-Star said: "I know I can score the basketball, but I take pride in getting guys involved and letting guys be involved in the offense. That way, defensively, they'll all be locked in and it's a lot easier.

"I want everybody to get their shots whether they're close to the rim or three-point shots or whatever the case may be, or just get an opportunity to get a shot. That's something I've been doing throughout the course of my career, especially when I was in Houston. Obviously, Kevin [Durant] and Ky [Kyrie Irving] get their shots however they want. But my job is to get everybody else on this roster easy opportunities.

"When I was sitting out, I had multiple conversations with Steve [Nash] on our offense and kind of putting myself in position to be successful and that means getting guys better shots. It's something that we still continue to work on and these next two days that we have between games and the week after our last regular-season game is very vital to our success in the sense of offensively and defensively getting on the same page."

Related items

  • Suns embracing franchise equalling win streak ahead of Warriors clash Suns embracing franchise equalling win streak ahead of Warriors clash

    Chris Paul is embracing the prospect of the Phoenix Suns matching their franchise record streak of 17 consecutive wins ahead of Tuesday's game against the Golden State Warriors.

    The Suns veteran, who reiterated that the ultimate goal is an elusive NBA title, had 22 points, eight rebounds and five assists as Phoenix beat the Brooklyn Nets 113-107 on Saturday.

    The win over the Nets moved the Suns' winning run to 16 games, within one victory of their franchise best, set in 2006-07.

    "It would be nice," Paul said during the post-game news conference. "Obviously everybody knows the ultimate goal is to win a championship but if you don't enjoy the small victories throughout the regular season then what the hell are you doing?

    "More than anything, we are having fun... We are going to keep taking it one game at a time and enjoy the moments because it's all about the journey."

    The Suns, who were beaten in last season's NBA Finals by the Milwaukee Bucks, have a 17-3 record this season, only bettered by Tuesday's opponents Golden State (17-2).

    "We know how good that team is over there," Paul added. "They have identity. They're led by Steph [Curry] and Draymond [Green] and now they've got Iggy [Andre Igoudala]. That's a tough team anytime you play against them."

    Devin Booker top scored for the Suns with 30 points against the Nets, including four three-pointers along with four assists.

    On the potential franchise-equalling game, he added: "I am looking forward to it. "Obviously [it is] not a make it or break it game. Not a playoff game. But we know it will be a high-energy game.

    "Two best records in the NBA. It is going to be a high intensity fun game."

  • Harden still 'trying to figure it all out' after frustrating Nets defeat Harden still 'trying to figure it all out' after frustrating Nets defeat

    James Harden admits he is still trying to figure out how to play his best basketball for the Brooklyn Nets after an ordinary display in the 113-107 loss to the Phoenix Suns on Saturday.

    Harden registered his fourth triple-double of the season, but he had seven turnovers and shot poorly, going none-for-six from three-point range for his 12 points under close guarding from Mikal Bridges.

    The 2018 MVP also shot four-for-16 from the field, finishing with 13 rebounds and 14 assists, as his up-and-down season continues.

    Harden is averaging 20.7 points, 7.6 rebounds and 9.2 assists per game this season, with his offensive output the most alarming decline on his 25.0 career average.

    The 32-year-old averaged 24.6 points for the Nets following his January move from the Houston Rockets, with injuries impacting his continuity after the switch and into this season as well as developing cohesion with his new side.

    "Honestly I’m trying to figure all that out right now," Harden said at the post-game news conference. “I’m trying to figure it out.

    "Trying to figure out when to score, when to be a playmaker when to run offense, when to do a little bit of everything.

    "Just trying to figure it out it’s been a little difficult especially since you know, well whatever, but it’s been a little difficult but I’m just trying to figure it out."

    Nets head coach Steve Nash admitted it was a "tough night" for Harden, who was jeered by some fans at the Barclays Center upon his seventh turnover.

    "It was a tough night for him," Nash said during the news conference. "Some turnover issues. He didn’t get a lot of good looks.

    "That's part of our growth too, trying to figure out ways for him to be effective, even if he's not getting to the rim."

  • Suns down Nets to extend winning streak to 16 games, Embiid returns with 42 in 76ers' 2OT loss Suns down Nets to extend winning streak to 16 games, Embiid returns with 42 in 76ers' 2OT loss

    The Phoenix Suns extended their winning streak to 16 games on Saturday with a 113-107 victory over the Brooklyn Nets, who gave up 20 turnovers for the game.

    The Nets coughed up 15 turnovers in the first half alone as the Suns claimed an early lead and were never headed, led by Devin Booker (30 points and four assists) and Chris Paul (22 points, eight rebounds and five assists).

    James Harden managed a triple-double but it was far from his best game with seven turnovers while only scoring 12 points, going zero-of-four from beyond the arc. Harden also had 13 rebounds and 14 assists.

    Kevin Durant top scored for the Nets with 39 points along with nine rebounds, seven assists and four steals but also had five turnovers.

    The Suns can equal their franchise record winning streak when they face the Golden State Warriors on Tuesday. Phoenix's 17-3 mark for the season is their best record through 20 games since 2004-05.

     

    Embiid returns with a bang

    Joel Embiid scored 42 points and had 14 rebounds on his return after nine games out due to COVID-19 protocols but could not lift the sliding Philadelphia 76ers to victory, going down 121-120 to the Minnesota Timberwolves in double over-time. Embiid had a shot to win the game but was blocked by Anthony Edwards on the buzzer.

    Luka Doncic scored 33 points with 10 assists as the Dallas Mavericks were beaten 120-114 by the Washington Wizards with Bradley Beal hitting 26 points. The Wizards improve to 13-7.

    Houston Rockets center Christian Wood had a huge game with 33 points and 16 rebounds as his side defeated the Charlotte Hornets 146-143 in over-time.

     

    Randle loses his handle

    Julius Randle only managed eight points, shooting three-of-14 from the field as the New York Knicks beat the Atlanta Hawks 99-90.

© 2020 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.