James Harden had another rough game shooting, the Rockets were unable to slow the torrid LaMarcus Aldridge, and Houston is in a shocking 0-2 playoff hole headed to the Northwest this weekend.
And then in the locker room after Houston’s crushing 112-105 defeat, things got worse for Harden (six baskets, five turnovers), when he got into a dust-up with a reporter. When grilled by Houston reporter Fran Blinebury about his offensive struggles, Harden said his offense – he’s just 14-for-47 shooting, 29 percent – isn’t the issue, but the team’s defense is. The Rockets can’t get stops, and Harden is right. Aldridge, a very good offensive player, has looked Chamberlain-esque through the first two games: 89 points on 59 percent shooting.
In this video, Blinebury’s questions can be heard starting around :43. Blinebury comes back with the same question at 1:06, and then again at 1:11, at which point you can tell Harden isn’t thrilled.
What happened off-camera after the media scrum is going to be the story. From the Oregonian:
But when his media session in the Rockets opulent locker room ended, Harden went back at the reporter, asking if he had ever seen a player not play well before. The reporter answered that the struggle seemed unusual for Harden and was coming on a major stage, the playoffs.
The two went back and forth for a while, with Harden asking the reporter if he’d ever seen a basketball game before, then demanding to know whom the reporter was. The exchange got testy enough that team officials stepped in to usher Harden out.
As he left the room, Harden called the reporter “weirdo.”
Is Blinebury a weirdo? Don’t know. Never met him.
Some might say Harden’s facial hair is weird, or that it’s weird how he doesn’t even pretend to play defense, but what really matters is this: How did Daryl Morey sleep last night? That’s two difficult losses for the Rockets to stomach, and now they’ve got to travel to Portland, where the Blazers have lost just once since March 17th. The Rockets “won” the offseason when they landed Dwight Howard, and are now basically facing an elimination game Friday night.
So, who replaces Kevin McHale this summer? [Harden video via Clutch Fans]