Houston Rockets: James Harden takes a cue from Kobe Bryant

By Jeffrey Miles

Feb 2, 2013; Houston, TX, USA; Houston Rockets shooting guard James Harden (13) passes against Charlotte Bobcats point guard Kemba Walker (15) during the first quarter at the Toyota Center. Mandatory Credit: Thomas Campbell:USA TODAY Sports

With many basketball analysts now calling Kobe Bryant ‘ Kobe Johnson ‘ in praise of Kobe’s newfound propensity to share the ball with his teammates and pile up assists as quickly as points, it appears that James Harden has decided to benefit from the Kobe’s painful lesson in teamwork as well. Harden recorded his first career triple double tonight and consequently the starting five garnered a practically even distribution of points scored. With every starter (besides Jeremy Lin) scoring from 19-24 points apiece, the Houston Rockets became even more unpredictable.

After riding high in a slaughter of the Utah Jazz, the Rockets were quickly grounded by the Denver Nuggets for the third time this season. Granted the Nuggets are serious contenders this season, but the only thing more annoying than not being able to beat them is listening to their radio play-by-play man. Rather than slipping into another losing streak, however, the boys found a way to finish a game they were supposed to win against the Charlotte Bobcats. What is most interesting is how they went about it.

One perusal of tonight’s box-score shows a balanced attack by the starting five that simply hasn’t been there all season. It is truly an anomaly. James Harden was the source. The Bobcat defense helped on Harden to the tune of double and triple teams, just like everyone else does. The difference was that Harden found the open man, and therefore a high-percentage shot. As a result, the Rockets dominated in assists, rebounds, points-in-the-paint, and overall field goal percentage. It is amazing how all of these numbers skyrocket when there is ball movement based on old-fashioned basketball fundamentals.

Perhaps these elite athletes simply forget sometimes how inescapable the fundamental laws of basketball are. Maybe their superior ability can tempt them to rely on that more than these basketball truths. After Kobe’s recent change of heart, I find him interesting on a human level for the first time in my life. If Harden truly has taken a cue from Kobe, I find him even more interesting as well. If Harden can forego all of the time wasted by Kobe’s selfishness, and continue putting up triple doubles, the city of Houston will be the happy beneficiary.