James Harden and LeBron James Battle: MVP Race Heating Up
NBA Heavyweights James Harden and Lebron James exchanged fire all the way till the sound of the final buzzer in a game that saw the Houston Rockets finish off the Cleveland Cavaliers down the stretch.
The game itself did carry some significance not only in the standings, but on the MVP ladder as well. The end result sent a shock wave out over social media after the game and all the way into the next day. NBA fans everywhere got to see a new school rivalry that had an old school feel.
Harden was clearly motivated to take on the challenge of going head to head with LeBron James. During the 3rd quarter a scramble for the ball ensued, both Harden and James were in each others personal space.
While attempting to retrieve and secure the basketball Harden extended his leg. His foot made contact with LeBron’s groin. James definitely laid it on thick, flailing backwards while putting on the theatrics.
No player should be kicked anywhere and Harden should have definitely been held accountable for his actions. A one game suspension though? Another situation saw James lay on top of Patrick Beverley for an extended period of time. This mess resulted in them both getting techs, but it was James who ended up with the advantage going to the line to shoot two even though he arguably was the aggressor. Take a peak at Harden’s kick and you be the judge: Harden was given a technical foul on the play. On the next possession the two got tangled up again with James defending Harden as no call was made. LeBron had this to say after the game about the controversial kick;
“That’s not a basketball play and the league will probably take a look at it,” James said. “I have no idea why he would do that.”
The Kings Request is Granted
It was announced the following day that Harden would receive a one game suspension. that game came against the 1st place Atlanta Hawks. The Rockets actually beat the Hawks through 3 quarters but clearly missed harden in the 4th , as the Hawks stormed back to score 32 points in the final frame.
Harden could of likely helped close the game out but wasn’t available due to his 1 game suspension for the altercation with James. Harden should have definitely received some sort of punishment. The always outspoken Matt Barnes had this to say about the situation on Twitter:
— Matt Barnes (@Matt_Barnes22) March 1, 2015
After the Cavs game Harden put on his Abraham Lincoln costume and spoke with the media after beating LeBron James and the Cavs. The MVP front runner had this to say:
Harden was back in action for a huge game with the Memphis Grizzlies, one of the strongest teams in the NBA. The Rockets schedule has not been kind, their last three opponents had been the Cavaliers, Hawks, and Grizzlies.
Harden scored 18 points and handed out a game high 13 assists against the always tough Memphis Grizzlies but was unable to close in the dying seconds of the fourth quarter. Harden is known as ridiculously good at getting to the free throw line leading the league in free throw attempts at 9.6 per game.
That was definitely the game plan when he penetrated the lane, but was then fouled by Zack Randolph on his way to the hoop. Oh wait, he wasn’t fouled? The replay shows all kinds of contact on Harden’s left arm, but no whistle went.
Ironically the ensuing play was the one that won the game. Marc Gasol came back down the floor with no time left and made the game winning shot. The end of the recap provides a first hand look at the play. The league agreed it should have been a foul, but draw your own conclusions in regards to controversial no-call on Harden:
James Harden Reigns Supreme
The bottom line is Harden should not have made contact with the kings jewels and blown calls are a reality in the National Basketball Association. The beard made no excuses for any of it, nor did he take to the media to complain.
The MVP race has definitely heated up as Russell Westbrook has made a serious surge in his own quest for greatness. LeBron on the other hand has also turned up the heat as his individual play has seen the Cavs emerge as a serious threat in the Eastern Conference.
It is however, James Harden and Stephen Curry that have been doing it all year long for their respective teams. Harden in particular is fueling the rockets offense and has also become a very good play maker in the process. The beard leads the team in assists and absolutely is the focal point of the teams offense. The man sometimes dressed as Abe Lincoln is also twice the defender he was of one season past.
James Harden has had a tough go this year. The Rockets lost Dwight Howard and have a ridiculously tough schedule. Yet still Harden and the Rockets persevere. Harden does have his work cut out for him as it appears he will have to win this award decisively to take the award that recognizes individual greatness over the course of 82 games in the greatest league on the planet.
Harden and LeBron gave everyone a show to remember as the two stars battled it on on both ends . The one-on-one ISO let everyone have a look at two of the best in the world go at it head to head. Could this have set-up a preview for the NBA finals? It’s not entirely impossible. Have a look at these two juggernauts go head to head as a new rivalry may have just been born:
James Harden posted a triple double against the Pistons en route to a much needed Houston victory. Harden has been doing it for the Rockets since the season opened.
Is he getting the credit he deserves? His consistency has him at the top of the ladder. A few rungs ahead of the rest. Harden who carries a PER of 27.15 is the MVP as of today, no and if’s or buts about it.
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