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Highlight Review: James Harden at Denver Nuggets

Photo by Gene Sweeney Jr./Getty Images
Photo by Gene Sweeney Jr./Getty Images
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A throwback to James Harden torching the Denver Nuggets in a 119-114 victory for the Houston Rockets.

To help us all cope with another hoop-less NBA offseason, I’ll be starting what I hope to make a monthly installment of “Highlight Review,” that will feature highlights from various performances this past season from Houston’s players.

Think of it as you and I talking about some dope basketball plays, except you can’t get a word in and it’s literally only me talking. My intentions are to aid some fans in getting their basketball fix over the summer while also creating opportunities to reflect back on some high points of the 17-18 season.

There’s no better place to start this series of posts off than in a monster game from James Harden. So let’s get into some footage from the Bearded One’s 41 point, 8 rebound, and 7 assist outing in a mid-season game versus the Nuggets.

Watch the whole video first if you’re into doing things like a normal person, but after that I’ll be pointing out specific times to look out for within it. (Credit to FreeDawkins on YouTube for the video.)

We won’t be covering every play in the video – there’s only so much that can be said about a made catch-and-shoot three – but we’ll discuss some of Harden’s more noteworthy possessions.

Skip forward to 0:50 through the video: The play starts off with Devin Harris doing a solid job of recovering after a screen from Luc Mbah a Moute to avoid Denver center Nikola Jokic from having to switch onto Harden.

The only problem is, James Harden is still James Harden regardless of who is guarding him, and Harris is as badly stranded on Harden Island as anyone would be.

Harden hits some size-up dribbles, takes a sidestep, and Harris over-aggressively contests his jumper, resulting in a four-point play and probably some hurt feelings.

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Now to 2:05: Harden takes the ball up and hits Mason Plumlee with a behind-the-back dribble that would’ve left me on the floor contemplating some of the deeper points of modern philosophy. He caps it off by delivering a one-handed bounce pass from half court to Ryan Anderson for a layup.

Side note; Anderson looked way too graceful with that finish to be the Ryan Anderson that I know. I was personally unaware that the finger roll was even in his layup package.

2:40: This time, Denver can’t avoid the Jokic switch onto Harden, and Harden definitely gets bored during this professional basketball game and starts playing games within the game. He does three or four too many size-up moves to not be toying.

The three Harden hits in his face after is the very definition of a “sleepy bucket”, an unofficial stat that Harden definitely leads the league in on a yearly basis.

3:15: I’m drawing attention to this one because it’s a move that Harden hits fairly often that I have an infatuation with.

It’s like a combination of a jab-step and a step-back. Harden drops his shoulders as he steps his left leg forward, sending Jokic backward as Harden pulls back and drops in another three.

Moves like that really show how much clout a player has regarding their driving skills, and Harden is on the forefront of players that possess driving clout.

3:45: Harden really bullied Jokic on switches this game.

More size up moves, some quick accelerations and decelerations, and being 30 pounds lighter than his defender are important enough factors to equal out to an easy two points for Harden.

It gets to a point where one almost feels bad for mismatched defenders that are on Harden, but then one decides not to feel bad because watching people get sauced is great fun.

And that will do it. Thanks to all that read through, and I’d love to hear any comments. Again, I plan on making this a monthly installment on the blog so any reader interaction would make it that much more enjoyably to do.

Next: Based on his desires, LeBron James should seriously consider the Rockets

A final note; the Denver Announcers were absolutely steaming throughout this game at how Harden was getting to the line, which made this entire post so much more fun to write.

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