When Houston traded for James Harden, they were hoping, maybe even believing that they were getting a star. But we’re not sure anyone thought they were getting this. In Houston’s wild 122-119 comeback win over the Thunder, Harden not only had a defining “So I’m not a max player, huh?” game, he looked like the best player on the floor. Down 14 with only seven minutes to go, the Rockets rode Harden and Jeremy Lin (29 points, eight assists) the rest of the way. The game-deciding sequence began with a Lin floater. Then, Harden tied it with a stepback three on a switch against Serge Ibaka. On the following possession, Lin canned another triple. Harden then put the same move on Reggie Jackson, and made another stepback. A few minutes later, Harden finally used the dribble to go to the glass, and the sequence ended up in yet another Lin three-pointer. Harden scored 16 of his 46 in the fourth quarter, and started getting MVP chants in Houston for the first time since Mario Elie, Robert Horry and Sam Cassell were making big shots and The Dream was serving up repeated servings of “grilled center” in the paint … On the other side, Kevin Durant dropped a triple-double (16 points, 12 rebounds, 11 assists) but couldn’t make a shot down the stretch, and Russell Westbrook had 28 points and 10 boards but was upstaged in the fourth by Lin … Houston also reportedly agreed to a three-team deal where they will receive Thomas Robinson, Francisco Garcia, Tyler Honeycutt and the Suns’ 2013 second-round pick. Sacramento picks up Patrick Patterson, Cole Aldrich, Toney Douglas and $1 million in cash, while Phoenix gets Marcus Morris. Outside of the Kings giving up on last summer’s No. 5 pick so quickly, nothing significant going on in this deal, unless you count the Morris twins reuniting in the desert as significant … After spending the weekend divvying up ass kickings to anyone dumb enough to guard him, Kyrie Irving continued his assault on the NBA by lighting up New Orleans for 35 in Cleveland’s 105-100 win … Dallas might’ve won by 15 against the Magic last night, but it shouldn’t have been cause for celebration. One, Orlando is filming nightly scripts for The Walking Dead, and two, Dallas’ two best players last night are a combined 70 years old. Shawn Marion (17 points, eight rebounds) has stepped it up so much over the last month that there are actually bidding wars going on for his services in fantasy leagues everywhere. Then there’s Vince Carter (14 points, eight dimes), who must’ve spent the last three seasons saving himself because he’s looking like an entirely new player. Diving for loose balls. Making hustle plays. Not shooting one-footed fadeaways with two guys on him. In the final moments, VC came up with a steal and a behind-the-back dish all in one movement, gettin it to the Matrix for a slam … In college hoops, a bucket from Naadir Tharpe (he made only two all night) pushed No. 9 Kansas past rival No. 14 Oklahoma State by one in double overtime. Despite the loss and some terrible shooting, the Cowboys star backcourt (Markel Brown, Marcus Smart) combined for 36 points … Keep reading to hear about how Chris Bosh’s speech helped the U dominate the ACC …
Should we really be praising Dwight Howard for the way he played last night? For the way he actually set decent screens? Hey, look at the way the big man is setting screens. He’s really giving that extra effort! Whether he’s been holding out on L.A. or not, Howard did play like the real Superman last night against Boston, summoning up 24 points and 12 rebounds as the Lakers took the head off the Celtics, 113-99. The Lakers placed seven players in double-figures, and once Paul Pierce‘s magic wore off in the third quarter (23 of his 26 points came in the first half), it was over … With the death of Jerry Buss, there was a pregame slideshow and video tribute set to Green Day‘s “Good Riddance (Time of Your Life).” Then Kobe spoke to the crowd, and was on the verge of tears before pointing up to Buss’ old seat, now empty. Finally, the crowd erupted into “Jer-ry!” chants. We couldn’t have been the only ones thinking of Springer … Steve Nash passed Magic Johnson for fourth all time in assists last night, and says he’s coming after Mark Jackson next. Then there’s Bryant, who had seven dimes last night but missed all four triples he took. Unbelievably, he’s now made just one three-pointer since January 20 … LeBron James (24 points, 11 assists) lit up the highlight reels during the first half against Atlanta – catching a lob off the glass from D-Wade, and making a crazy, floating, high-arcing shot at the halftime buzzer. But Miami didn’t pick it up until the final period. Once there, they annihilated the Hawks 40-17 en route to a 103-90 victory. With Josh Smith having one foot out the door in Atlanta already, Al Horford (27 points) was the only thing keeping Atlanta from getting run off their own floor … Meanwhile, Chris Bosh‘s greatest contribution didn’t come on the court. It came in the locker room with a supposedly awesome speech to the University of Miami squad that’s currently smoking everyone in the ACC … That’s two straight nights we’ve seen Brandon Jennings (31 points, 11 assists) cut up Deron Williams and the Nets. The problem? It’s also been two straight nights that Brooklyn escaped with a W. After Joe Johnson stole their hearts on Tuesday night, the Nets did it again in a three-point win last night … Brandon Knight (21 points) and Detroit beat the Bobcats by six, but the play of the night came from Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, who caught the ball in the lane, took one power dribble and mashed all over Greg Monroe‘s head. It’s probably going to land in a lot of top 10 plays at season’s end, but the call from the announcers is even better, alternating between Lil Jon (“What!”) to Trinidad Jame$ (“Wooooo”) … In other storylines from last night: Memphis barely got by suddenly red-hot Toronto, winning by six mainly because Zach Randolph (17 points, 18 boards) feasted in the paint; Nikola Pekovic (27 points, 18 rebounds) ate Philly alive as Minnesota got it done, 94-87; Klay Thompson erupted for 28 points in Golden State’s 108-98 win over Phoenix; and Paul George continued right where he left off in the second half of Sunday night’s All-Star Game, dropping 27 points and eight rebounds as Indiana rang up 74 points in the first half of a 34-point destruction of the Knicks … We’re out like Kobe from distance.
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