But as we mentioned at the outset, DeRozan had obliterated Harden on a pair of possessions earlier in the game. The first was an alley-oop Harden was unfortunate enough to find himself standing under when the Toronto off-guard thrust it down from up high:
The second was the result of a back-line rotation Beard had no business making in something as incidental as the Drew League — even in the championship game.
The Drew League is the West Coast’s Rucker Park, and in some respects it’s gotten even bigger than some of the celebrity fireworks we’re used to seeing on W. 155th St.
But it’s still summer basketball, and not even the Vegas kind that makes seemingly astute basketball watchers agog. Harden has his detractors, primarily on defense, but when DeMar DeRozan — an All-Star in 2014 — shakes his defender with a pretty crossover, maybe just avoid sliding over to co-star in his highlight film.
Harden worked hard on the defensive end last year, and improved dramatically from the ball-watching mess he was the year before, at least from an effort standpoint. He did all that while leading the Rockets to the No. 2 seed in the Western Conference, largely without Dwight Howard and with starting point guard, Patrick Beverley, out in the second half.
There’s a case to be made that Harden did more with less than 2015 NBA MVP Stephen Curry last season while also leading his Rockets to the Western Conference Finals, the first time they’ve been back there since the best center in the ’90s was sitting up for them.
Try and remember all that when you watch DeRozan score.