James Harden made NBA history in his first game for the Brooklyn Nets, who held on beat to the Orlando Magic 122-115.

Harden landed in Brooklyn on Thursday to join fellow All-Stars Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving following a blockbuster trade with the Houston Rockets.

Former MVP Harden did not disappoint on debut for the Nets on Saturday after becoming the first player in NBA history to post a 30-point triple-double in his bow for a new team.

Harden – an eight-time All-Star – finished with 32 points, a franchise-record 14 assists, 12 rebounds and four steals for championship contenders the Nets.

Durant, who has reunited with former Oklahoma City Thunder team-mate Harden, led the way with a game-high 42 points as the Nets improved to 8-6 following a third consecutive win.

Two-time NBA champion and Finals MVP Durant also made franchise history for most consecutive 25-plus point games with nine.

Steve Nash is eyeing a championship with the Brooklyn Nets after the arrival of James Harden, but the head coach warned his team they needed to improve.

Harden, an eight-time All-Star, was traded to the Nets from the Houston Rockets on Thursday, joining Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving in Brooklyn.

The Nets (7-6) are set to contend for a first NBA championship and Nash said there was a huge opportunity ahead.

"We want to win a championship, for sure. That's why we made the deal, that's what we're setting out to do," he told a news conference.

"Having said that, we're so far from that right now so our expectations are to grow every day, to get better, to figure out who we are and what we are and how we fit together and where we can improve. It's a process.

"You have to earn the right to play for a championship through the regular season and playoffs so those steps are still in front of us before we can say we're a championship team.

"We're not a team that's running it back that's been to the Finals or Conference Finals even, we're a brand new entity that has to figure it out but that is the end goal and if we take the necessary steps and continue to improve and work towards that and commit to that process, why not? We have a great opportunity here with the players we have."

With Durant and Harden, the Nets now have two players who have won seven of the past 11 NBA scoring titles. No Brooklyn qualifier has ever finished higher than fifth.

Irving, Harden and Durant all rank in the top 10 in the NBA in scoring average (minimum 500 games) since the former's rookie season in 2011-12.

Harden could make his Nets debut against the Orlando Magic on Saturday.

James Harden believes he will combine well with Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving at the Brooklyn Nets, talking up the "sacrifice" that would be required.

Harden, an eight-time All-Star, was traded from the Houston Rockets to the Nets in a move that was confirmed on Thursday.

Amid questions over how Harden will fit alongside Durant and Irving, the Nets recruit is confident – and said there would need to be sacrifices.

"Chemistry, sacrifice and like you said we're all elite so depending on the game, depending on what's going on throughout the course of the game, that's going to determine who gets the ball and who makes the plays," Harden told a news conference on Friday.

"We're all unselfish, we're all willing passers and we play basketball the right way and that's all that matters."

Asked what the Nets fans were getting, Harden said: "An elite player, an elite team-mate, an elite leader and just a guy that is willing to do whatever it takes to rack up as many wins as we can, sacrifice."

Harden's arrival enhances the Nets' championship hopes as the 31-year-old looks to win a maiden NBA title.

With Durant and Harden, the Nets now have two players who have won seven of the past 11 NBA scoring titles. No Brooklyn qualifier has ever finished higher than fifth.

Irving, Harden and Durant all rank in the top 10 in the NBA in scoring average (minimum 500 games) since the former's rookie season in 2011-12.

Harden said the Nets (7-6) were in position to contend.

"Obviously you've got Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving on the team and then surrounded by those guys you have really good pieces in DeAndre [Jordan], Jeff [Green], shooters in Joe [Harris], Landry [Shamet]," he said.

"You just look at this entire roster and it's built for any style of basketball you want. And then the coaching staff who know the game of basketball at a high level.

"You just add that all together and that's a legit chance right there. It was a no-brainer for me."

Brooklyn Nets general manager Sean Marks is confident Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving and James Harden will gel as they work towards a "common goal".

The Nets confirmed on Thursday they had completed a blockbuster trade to land eight-time All-Star Harden from the Houston Rockets.

Questions have been asked over whether Durant, Harden and Irving can work together, but Marks is confident.

"These guys have given us the right answers. They've said hey, they want to play together, they can see this fitting," he told a news conference.

"They're at a time in their careers – I don't want to speak for each one of them because I let them have their own their own voice and their narrative around this – but I think they understand that there's without a doubt going to be some nights where one or two need to sacrifice for the other and so forth. But I think they're all looking for a common goal.

"We’re all looking for that common goal, as I've said before, is to be the last team standing. I think when you have a group that is willing to sacrifice, and play hard, play together on the court, and they already have a relationship, a prior relationship to this, so I think that will help."

Harden, Durant and Irving all rank in the top 10 in the NBA in scoring average since the latter's rookie season in 2011-12 (minimum 500 games).

Durant or Harden have won seven of the past 11 NBA scoring titles. No Brooklyn qualifier has ever finished higher than fifth in the league.

Marks said the opportunity to land a player like Harden came at a good time for the Nets.

"The timing was right for us. And fortunately, any time you get an opportunity to acquire or try to acquire a player of this calibre it's something you do look hard at [and] is something we did," he said.

"The process sped up very, very rapidly and very quickly over the last 48 hours."

James Harden has been thanked by the Houston Rockets after being traded to the Brooklyn Nets.

Three-time NBA scoring champion Harden has linked up with former Oklahoma City Thunder team-mate Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving in Brooklyn, who have gone all in on a championship run by bringing in the 2018 MVP.

The Nets gave up Jarrett Allen, Taurean Prince, Caris LeVert, Radions Kurucs, three first-round draft picks (2022, 2024 and 2026) and four first-round pick swaps (2021, 2023, 2025 and 2027) to acquire Harden.

Allen and Prince were sent to the Cleveland Cavaliers, who provided Houston with Dante Exum and a 2022 first-round pick via the Milwaukee Bucks. Brooklyn received a 2024 second-round pick from the Cavs to complete the deal.

The Rockets are expected to send LeVert and a 2023 second-round pick to the Indiana Pacers in exchange for two-time All-Star Victor Oladipo.

Harden requested a trade prior to the start of the season and following a 117-100 loss to the Los Angeles Lakers on Tuesday he said: "It's something that I don't think can be fixed."

The Rockets granted their franchise player his wish on Thursday and owner Tilman Fertitta praised him for his achievements in Houston.

"On behalf of the entire Rockets organisation and the City of Houston, I'd like to thank James Harden for an amazing eight-plus seasons in a Rockets uniform," said Fertitta in a statement.

"James has provided us with so many great memories as we've watched him grow from Sixth Man of the Year to a perennial All-Star and MVP.

"My family and I also want to thank James for his many off the court contributions, including generous charitable donations and multiple annual community events.

"We wish James the best of luck and will always be grateful for the memories."

Harden is second on the Rockets' all-time scoring list with 18,365 points, only trailing Hakeem Olajuwon (26,511) – a two-time NBA champion in Houston.

He averaged 29.6 points, 6.0 rebounds and 7.7 assists during his time with the Rockets.

Harden led them to the Western Conference Finals in 2014-15 and 2017-18, losing to the Golden State Warriors on both occasions.

James Harden has completed a blockbuster trade from the Houston Rockets to the Brooklyn Nets, it has been confirmed.

Widespread reports on Wednesday revealed Harden's eight-and-a-half-year stay in Houston was set to end, with the Nets agreeing a monster deal.

The Philadelphia 76ers had also been mooted as potential suitors, but Brooklyn's offer saw the Rockets receive Caris LeVert, Rodions Kurucs, three first-round draft picks (2022, 2024 and 2026) and four first-round pick swaps (2021, 2023, 2025 and 2027).

In a three-way move, Jarrett Allen and Taurean Prince were sent to the Cleveland, who put in Dante Exum and a further first-round draft pick (2022 via Milwaukee) for Houston as well as a second-round draft pick (2024) for the Nets.

The Rockets are expected to swiftly move LeVert and a second-round pick on to the Indiana Pacers for Victor Oladipo, although that switch was not initially confirmed alongside the Harden deal on Thursday.

Harden had been keen on a move prior to the start of the 2020-21 season and has now got his wish, linking up with Kevin Durant - his former Oklahoma City Thunder team-mate - and Kyrie Irving.

Brooklyn general manager Sean Marks said: "Adding an All-NBA player such as James to our roster better positions our team to compete against the league's best.

"James is one of the most prolific scorers and playmakers in our game, and we are thrilled to bring his special talents to Brooklyn.

"While we are excited to welcome James and his family to the Nets, we also want to thank the players who are departing.

"Caris, Jarrett, Rodions and Taurean were instrumental to the team's success and have made an enormous impact on our organisation.

"It has been a pleasure watching them grow both as players and as people and they will always be part of our Nets family. We wish each of them and their families all the best in the future."

Although trade talks were said to be ongoing for some time, speculation ramped up in the hours after Houston's defeat to the Los Angeles Lakers on Tuesday.

An out-of-sorts Harden put up just 16 points in 31 minutes in the 117-100 defeat and later stormed out of a post-game news conference after saying: "I literally have done everything that I can."

Those comments prompted a backlash from team-mates John Wall and DeMarcus Cousins, who both signed in the offseason as Houston once again rebuilt.

The Rockets failed to win a championship during Harden's time despite reaching the Western Conference Finals in both 2014-15 and 2017-18, with their star guard the league's MVP in the latter season.

Harden averaged 29.6 points per game in the regular season during his time with Houston, although that dropped slightly to 28.4 in the playoffs.

His return of 24.8 points through eight games this year was his worst average over a season for the Rockets.

James Harden has completed a blockbuster trade from the Houston Rockets to the Brooklyn Nets, it has been confirmed.

The James Harden saga is set to end.

Harden will reportedly swap the Houston Rockets for the Brooklyn Nets in a mega trade, reuniting with Kevin Durant and teaming up with Kyrie Irving.

The Philadelphia 76ers were reportedly frontrunners to prise the former NBA MVP to the 'City of Brotherly Love', but Daryl Morey refused to part with franchise pillar Ben Simmons and others.

Instead, the Nets reportedly sent Caris LeVert – later traded to the Indiana Pacers as Victor Oladipo was dealt to the Rockets – and four first-round draft picks, plus four pick swaps, to Houston, in a deal also involving the Cleveland Cavaliers.

The Nets also gave up Taurean Prince and talented center Jarrett Allen, who were sent to the Cavaliers, and Rockets-bound forward Rodions Kurucs.

It puts an end to a messy divorce between Harden and Rockets, after the disgruntled eight-time All-Star made no secret of his desire to depart as his frustrations boiled over post-game on Tuesday – sparking criticism from team-mates John Wall and DeMarcus Cousins.

Attention now turns to Brooklyn's new super team and how Harden fits alongside Durant and Irving – if and when he returns from his personal absence – in first-year head coach Steve Nash's quest to deliver a championship to the Nets.

Harden, who is eyeing a maiden NBA title, had called Houston home since 2012, guiding the Rockets to two Western Conference Finals and three semi-final appearances after his acquisition from the Oklahoma City Thunder.

The 31-year-old sharpshooter – team-mates with Durant at the Thunder between 2009 and 2012 – brings a high volume of three-point and free-throw attempts to Brooklyn, not to mention a dominant scorer, which the Nets have rarely had.

Harden attempted the most three-pointers in 2019-20 with 843, and he also topped the free-throw attempts category at 800. Prince topped Brooklyn's 3PA list with 431, while Spencer Dinwiddie stepped to the line on 446 occasions.

In terms of individual seasons averaging 30.0-plus points, Harden boasts three seasons, while Durant has two. The Nets? 0. John Williamson's high of 29.5 points per game in 1977-78 (in just 33 games) is the closest.

In each of the past three seasons heading into the 2020-21 campaign, Harden had earned the NBA scoring title. Durant has claimed four honours, compared to the Nets' all-time haul of 0 after Keith Van Horn finished fifth in 1998-99. Harden and Durant have won seven of the past 11 scoring crowns.

Harden brings a resume with a lot of wins and postseason experience, as did Irving and Durant as former NBA champions with the Cavaliers and Golden State Warriors respectively. The Nets have lost in the first round in back-to-back seasons, while not since 2003 have they featured in the Finals.

Harden boasts a team win percentage of 64.9 in regular-season games in which he has played, while he has amassed 128 playoff appearances.

The issue of Harden signing for the Nets is centred on possession and distribution, given he, Durant and Irving are ball carriers.

Looking at the highest usage percentage – an estimate of the percentage of team plays used by a player while he was on the floor – since 2014-15 to get an idea of how the Nets could make it work with the trio, and Harden (second, 35.3 per cent), Durant (eighth, 29.6 per cent) and Irving (ninth, 29.4 per cent) rank in the top 10. The NBA average is 20.0 per cent.

In 2019-20, points scored by Harden and points scored off his assists averaged 52.4 per game. It followed 53.9 in 2018-19, 51.3 in 2017-18 and 56 the season previous.

That marked four successive seasons with 50-plus points per game created, tying Oscar Robertson (1963-64 to 1966-67) for the longest streak in NBA history.

Harden averaged 34.3 points, 7.5 assists and 6.6 rebounds per regular-season game for the Rockets, who lost in the Western Conference semi-finals at Walt Disney World Resort, in 2019-20.

Kevin Durant said his previous experience playing alongside James Harden was "fun" ahead of the pair's expected reunion at the Brooklyn Nets.

Harden was reportedly traded from the Houston Rockets to the Nets on Wednesday in a four-team deal also involving the Cleveland Cavaliers and Indiana Pacers.

Durant and Harden spent three seasons together with the Oklahoma City Thunder between 2009 and 2012 before the latter headed to Houston.

Asked about his previous experience playing with Harden, Durant told a news conference: "It was fun."

Durant was unwilling to discuss the trade, which is yet to be confirmed, further.

The star had 26 points, six assists and three rebounds in the Nets' 116-109 win over the New York Knicks on Wednesday.

Durant became the second Nets player with 25-plus points in eight consecutive games, joining Bernard King (January 1979).

He played on back-to-back days for the first time since rupturing his Achilles during the 2019 NBA Finals with the Golden State Warriors.

"I wanted to see how my body felt this morning, how I felt after the game last night," Durant said.

"I was just trying to monitor everything leading up until the game and obviously throughout the game and I felt good.

"Hopefully I keep building on it and as the season goes along I continue to keep getting stronger and get used to the game again, the schedule, the travel, everything, so this is a good step."

The Nets improved to 7-6 with their win over the Knicks.

Steve Nash said the Brooklyn Nets needed to find "connectivity and balance" amid reports they have acquired James Harden.

Reports on Wednesday said former NBA MVP Harden was joining the Nets from the Houston Rockets in a trade that also involved the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Speaking ahead of the Nets' clash against the New York Knicks, Nash was unwilling to comment on the reports, which would see eight-time All-Star Harden join Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving in Brooklyn.

But, asked how superstars could gel, especially if the Nets get another, first-year head coach Nash said: "Basketball is about playing together and being the best you can be.

"No matter who you are it's about finding that connectivity and balance within a team and trying to be greater than the sum of your parts.

"That doesn't change no matter what your team looks like and that's definitely a goal and a thread of our team from day one."

Reports said Caris LeVert, Dante Exum, Rodions Kurucs and four first-round picks – and four Nets pick swaps – were heading to Houston.

The Rockets are reportedly sending LeVert to the Indiana Pacers in exchange for two-time All-Star Victor Oladipo.

Jarrett Allen and Taurean Prince are said to be joining the Cavs.

The reported move came a day after Harden's frustrations boiled over following a loss to the Los Angeles Lakers.

The Rockets star walked out of his post-game news conference, not before telling the media: "I love this city. I literally have done everything that I can.

"This situation is crazy. It's something that I don't think can be fixed."

Rockets duo John Wall and DeMarcus Cousins were both critical of Harden.

Led by Harden, the Rockets reached the Western Conference Finals in 2015 and 2018, while Houston have three semi-final appearances since he was acquired from the Oklahoma City Thunder in 2012.

The Brooklyn Nets are reportedly acquiring Houston Rockets star James Harden in a blockbuster deal.

ESPN reported on Wednesday that eight-time All-Star Harden was joining the Nets in a deal also including the Cleveland Cavaliers.

The report said Caris LeVert, Dante Exum, Rodions Kurucs and four first-round picks – and four Nets pick swaps – were heading to Houston.

The Rockets are reportedly sending LeVert to the Indiana Pacers in exchange for Victor Oladipo.

Jarrett Allen and Taurean Prince are said to be joining the Cavs.

The reported move came a day after Harden's frustrations boiled over following a loss to the Los Angeles Lakers.

The Rockets star walked out of his post-game news conference, not before telling the media: "I love this city. I literally have done everything that I can.

"This situation is crazy. It's something that I don't think can be fixed."

Rockets duo John Wall and DeMarcus Cousins were both critical of Harden.

Led by Harden, the Rockets reached the Western Conference Finals in 2015 and 2018, while Houston have three semi-final appearances since he was acquired from the Oklahoma City Thunder in 2012.

James Harden appears increasingly likely to be traded by the Houston Rockets as his team-mates continue to vocalise opposition to the wantaway superstar.

Harden's desire to move elsewhere was evident in the offseason as both the Brooklyn Nets and the Philadelphia 76ers were heavily linked.

No deal was agreed before the campaign began, however, and the 2018 MVP has played in eight of the 3-6 Rockets' nine games so far, scoring 24.8 points per game - his worst average since joining the team in 2012.

Harden's frustrations boiled over after Houston's latest 117-100 defeat to defending champions the Los Angeles Lakers on Tuesday.

He stormed out of a post-game news conference after saying: "I literally have done everything that I can. This situation is crazy. It's something that I don't think can be fixed."

Those comments prompted backlash from All-Star team-mate John Wall, and Wednesday brought fresh reports of trade talks.

According to the New York Times, the Rockets want to do a deal with the Sixers for Ben Simmons and Tyrese Maxey, the rookie who has excelled amid Philadelphia's COVID-19 crisis.

The Athletic said Houston were looking for a swift resolution and could be offered all of the Nets' future first-round picks and pick swaps.

Harden's Rockets colleagues already look to be moving on, with DeMarcus Cousins facing the media on Wednesday to offer his take on the "antics".

"Obviously it's disrespectful, but everybody has their words and their opinions," Cousins said. "We feel a certain type of way about some of his actions.

"This is the nasty part of the business that kind of gets swept under the rug. You deal with these type of things when guys are in positions of being franchise players or whatever the case may be.

"It's sometimes or usually a nasty break-up. That's all part of this business.

"You know I'm going to say this: coming in every day, we want to work, get better, lead this younger group.

"Regardless of what's going on with the team, the guys that are showing up, that are committed, that are buying into the task at hand, we're going to go to war with those guys.

"Whatever those results are, we're going to live with it. We're going to leave it all on the floor and whatever happens happens."

He added: "The other 14 guys of the locker room have done nothing to him. We've only showed up to work like everybody else. It's completely unfair to the rest of the guys in the locker room."

Cousins was asked if he felt betrayed by Harden's behaviour, having only signed for the team last month, but replied he was more interested in playing with Wall.

"Me personally, I don't feel betrayed at all," he said. "My interest was to play with John Wall, to be brutally honest.

"That being said, the disrespect started way before any interview. [It was] just the approach to the training camp, showing up the way he did, the antics off the court.

"The disrespect started way before. This isn't something that all of a sudden happened last night. With that being said, this is the nasty part of the business. It is what it is."

Asked if there was any way Harden could be welcomed back into the team, Cousins said: "I don't really think that's a question for us.

"I think that's a question for him: will he ever play with us again? I don't know. Quite honestly, I don't care."

Joel Embiid was the headline act as the Philadelphia 76ers held on to beat the Miami Heat 137-134 in overtime, while NBA champions the Los Angeles Lakers won again.

Embiid went berserk with a 45-point, 16-rebound double-double, and a career-high five steals and four assists, in a dominant performance to help the 76ers past the shorthanded Heat in Philadelphia on Tuesday.

The three-time All-Star had 10 points in the first half before carrying the 76ers with a stellar third quarter and clutch buckets in OT against the Heat, who were missing the likes of Jimmy Butler, Bam Adebayo and Goran Dragic.

Embiid sent the game into overtime with a pull-up jumper 4.3 seconds from the end in the fourth period, while Dakota Mathias' only basket of the game – a go-ahead three-pointer with 26.1 seconds remaining – ensured the 76ers prevailed.

Philadelphia's Embiid became the first 76ers player with 45 points, 16 rebounds, five steals and four assists in a game in franchise history since 1973-74, while he became the first NBA player with those stats since 1983-84.

In Houston, LeBron James starred as the in-form Lakers took down the Rockets for the second time in three days, winning 117-100.

James posted a game-high 26 points, eight rebounds and five assists to help the Lakers improve to 9-3 atop the Western Conference.

Anthony Davis contributed 19 points, 10 rebounds and five blocks for the Lakers.

 

Green sets career high

Danny Green had a game to remember for the 76ers. He set a new career high with nine three-pointers against the Heat. It also tied a franchise record for the most three-pointers in a game, joining Dana Barros in 1995. The two-time NBA champion finished with 29 points and 10 rebounds.

Kevin Durant flexed his muscles again, scoring 34 points, tallying 13 assists and grabbing nine rebounds as the Brooklyn Nets trumped the Denver Nuggets 122-116. Nikola Jokic had 23 points and 11 assists for the Nuggets.

 

Harden – out of shape and out of sorts

James Harden's uninspiring start to the season continued amid ongoing trade rumours. The former MVP – looking out of shape – made just five of 16 shots from the field, while he only nailed one of his six three-point attempts for 16 points in 31 minutes.

Rudy Gobert got paid in the offseason, signing a stunning contract in excess of $200million. He was far from convincing in the Utah Jazz's 117-87 win over the Cleveland Cavaliers. While the 2020 All-Star collected 10 rebounds, he finished with just four points on two-of-seven shooting from the field in 25 minutes. Gobert also had two turnovers.

 

LeBron trolls Rockets

As a four-time champion and NBA MVP, James has faith in his ability. The Lakers superstar took it to another level when he nailed a no-look three-pointer against the Rockets.

Tuesday's results

Philadelphia 76ers 137-134 Miami Heat (OT)
Brooklyn Nets 122-116 Denver Nuggets
Utah Jazz 117-87 Cleveland Cavaliers
Los Angeles Lakers 117-100 Houston Rockets
San Antonio Spurs 112-102 Oklahoma City Thunder
Indiana Pacers 104-95 Golden State Warriors
Boston Celtics-Chicago Bulls (postponed)

 

Nets at Knicks

Bragging rights will be on the line when the New York Knicks (5-6) host city rivals the Brooklyn Nets (6-6) on Wednesday.

James Harden appears to be heading for a Houston Rockets exit after his frustrations boiled over following the team's loss to the Los Angeles Lakers.

Harden reportedly wants to be traded to either the Philadelphia 76ers or another contender in the NBA, and the former MVP had a clear message after the Rockets were swept aside by defending champions the Lakers 117-100 on Tuesday.

The Rockets star walked out of his post-game news conference, not before telling the media: "I love this city. I literally have done everything that I can.

"This situation is crazy. It's something that I don't think can be fixed."

Led by Harden, the Rockets have reached two Western Conference Finals, while Houston have three semi-final appearances since the eight-time All-Star was acquired from the Oklahoma City Thunder in 2012.

In 2019-20, points scored by Harden and points scored off his assists averaged 52.4 per game. It followed 53.9 in 2018-19, 51.3 in 2017-18 and 56 the season previous.

That marked four successive seasons with 50-plus points per game created, tying Oscar Robertson (1963-64 to 1966-67) for the longest streak in NBA history.

Harden averaged 34.3 points, 7.5 assists and 6.6 rebounds per game for the Rockets, who lost in the Western Conference semi-finals at Walt Disney World Resort.

But Harden looks out of shape and out of sorts in 2020-21 amid links to the likes of the 76ers, Brooklyn Nets, Miami Heat and Toronto Raptors.

Harden made just five of 16 shots from the field, while he only nailed one of his six three-point attempts for 16 points in 31 minutes as the Rockets slumped to 3-6.

"We're not even close, honestly, to that team – obviously the defending champions – and all the other elite teams out there," Harden said. "I mean, you can tell the difference in these last two games.

"We're just not good enough – chemistry, talent-wise, just everything. And it was clear these last two games."

Moments after Harden left the podium, Rockets team-mate John Wall stepped up and the five-time All-Star did not hold back as he addressed the situation in Houston.

"When you have certain guys in the mix who don't want to buy in, all as one, it's going to be hard to do anything special, to do anything good as a basketball team," said Wall, who was acquired by the Rockets after Russell Westbrook was traded to the Washington Wizards.

Wall added: "We can't dwell down on it because it's only been nine games. Come on man, you want to jump off a cliff after nine games. It's a lot of basketball still to be played."

Asked about his partnership with Harden on the court, Wall said: "I think it's been a little rocky. Can't lie about that. I don't think it's been the best it could be, to be honest. That's all I really could say."

These are uncertain times for the NBA as it continues to navigate the coronavirus pandemic.

COVID-19 protocols have left rosters lighter in number and, with contract tracing having a major impact, it is far from surprising to see games being postponed.

The absences have offered some players greater opportunities to impress in the embryonic stages of a shortened season that will require adaptability from all involved.

After an eventful week, Stats Perform assesses those performers who have stood out - for good and bad reasons - in games from January 4-10.

 

RUNNING HOT...

Bradley Beal 

It has been a tough start for the Wizards, who are stuck in the basement of the Eastern Conference. Beal, however, has excelled amid the defeats. He is averaging 35 points per game for the season but has been particularly spectacular in recent outings, including dropping 60 against the Philadelphia 76ers. While it set a new career best for points - and tied a franchise record too - Beal made clear he is not interested in personal milestones: "I just want to win. Sometimes you might be able to score 40, 50, 60, whatever the case may be, but I just want to win".

Tyrese Maxey 

The 21st pick in the 2020 draft had scored a combined tally of 52 points through his first nine NBA appearances. Then, amid injuries, positive COVID tests and coronavirus-enforced isolations, Maxey was thrust into a leading role as one of just seven players available against the Denver Nuggets on Saturday. His response to the situation was to score 39 points in just under 44 minutes of action, having taken 33 shots but no free throw attempts. In doing so, he became the first 76ers rookie with at least 35 points in a game since franchise legend Allen Iverson in 1997. 

Jimmy Butler 

Butler has begun to heat up after a cold start to the new campaign for Miami. The five-time All-Star had been hampered by injury issues but has looked back to somewhere near his best of late, managing 18, 26 and 26 points in his past three games. Surprisingly, though, Butler is still yet to manage a successful three-point attempt, missing on his seven shots from deep so far. It is a different story from the free-throw line, though, going 28 of 29 from the charity stripe.

LaMelo Ball 

The rise and rise of the youngest Ball brother continues. The point guard became the youngest player in NBA history to score a triple-double as Charlotte Hornets beat the Atlanta Hawks on Sunday. At 19 years and 140 days old, Ball had 22 points, 12 rebounds and 11 assists. He had narrowly missed out on achieving the feat in his team's previous outing, against a New Orleans Pelicans team that included older sibling Lonzo. His rebounding average has gone from 4.33 a game to 9.25 across the past week. 

GOING COLD...

James Harden  

The NBA's scoring champion for the previous three seasons, Harden is still averaging 26 points per game despite continued doubts over his long-term future in Houston. However, it has not been a particularly productive week for the guard, who has not reached double digits in terms of field goals made in four straight outings. There were 15-point displays against both the Pacers and the Magic, then 20 points in a defeat to the Lakers. Across that stretch, Harden was six for 22 from three-point range. Astonishingly, he did not attempt a solitary free throw against Orlando. 

Trae Young 

To say Young has gone cold from deep recently is an understatement. The Atlanta Hawk landed five of six attempts in the season-opener against the Bulls, but since then has managed just nine successful long-range shots, including going a combined one for 14 in his most recent three appearances. Understandably, then, his average for points per game has dipped from 28.17 on January 3 to 17.67 for the past week.

Russell Westbrook 

A quadriceps injury will keep Westbrook sidelined for at least a week. His early form with the Wizards has been steady, including reaching double digits for points in all of his seven games for the franchise. Where there has been a dip for the former NBA MVP is in rebounding. He was up at 11.20 per game for the season by January 3, but he has averaged 6.00 for the past week following reduced contributions in defeats to the 76ers and the Celtics.

Blake Griffin  

Griffin hit with eight of 16 three-point shots for Detroit against the Cavaliers on December 26, but his output from long range since suggests that number could prove to be a post-Christmas outlier when compared to the rest of the season. In the past week, the 31-year-old has landed two from deep out of 18 tries for the struggling Pistons. His overall field goal percentage is down on his career mark too (37.6 per cent from 49.7 per cent), explaining why he is averaging 13.9 points per game. 

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