Houston Rockets: Harden facing criticism from 60 point performance

James Harden #13 of the Houston Rockets runs up the court against the Atlanta Hawks (Photo by Cato Cataldo/NBAE via Getty Images)
James Harden #13 of the Houston Rockets runs up the court against the Atlanta Hawks (Photo by Cato Cataldo/NBAE via Getty Images) /

Houston Rockets guard James Harden has strangely drawn criticism following his 60 point performance against the Atlanta Hawks. Here’s why that needs to stop!

It seems to have become the trending thing to hate Houston Rockets superstar James Harden. Harden constantly faces slander despite a large majority of the negative takes being erroneous. We constantly hear takes on how Harden doesn’t play defense, although that’s blatantly incorrect and we also hear about how he shrinks in the playoffs, even though that’s also not true.

It’s become clear that Harden is the villain of the NBA and none of his acts of greatness can change it. The latest example is Harden’s 60-point performance in the Houston Rockets’ last game on Saturday against the Atlanta Hawks.

Facing the Hawks, the Rockets were short-handed as they were without Danuel House and Clint Capela in addition to the injuries to Eric Gordon and Gerald Green. With the Rockets being significantly under-manned, Harden picked up the slack in a major way. The Beard had 60 points on 66 percent shooting from the field and 57 percent shooting from 3-point range while only playing in three quarters. Harden is no stranger to the 60 point milestone, as he’s now accomplished the feat on four occasions, ranking third in NBA history. This time was much different, as Harden drew unfair criticism from this most recent achievement.

The criticism started immediately after the game and has continued days afterwards. One of the more entertaining takes was that “Harden was playing for stats” since he was still in the game late in the third quarter. This is contradictory because the Hawks had Trae Young on the floor in the fourth quarter, despite playing in an overtime game the night before. Not only that, but the Houston Rockets were facing a myriad of injuries which left them significantly short-handed. In fact, Harden didn’t play any of the fourth quarter yet the Hawks actually had their starters in during the fourth, despite being down significantly on the scoreboard.

Another take was that Harden was dominant only because the Rockets were facing the lowly Hawks, as if Harden can control who the Rockets face on the schedule. This is selective criticism because Los Angeles Lakers forward Anthony Davis scored 41 points against the lowly New Orleans Pelicans just days before and there was national praise. This was despite the fact that Davis needed more shots to get to 41 than Harden needed to get to 60. Not only that, Davis played more minutes to get there and wasn’t nearly as efficient as the Beard. Davis shot 50 percent from the field and 25 percent from three, as compared to Harden’s 67 percent from the field and 57 percent from downtown.

This national Harden hate has also been exuded in how Luka Doncic of the Dallas Mavericks seems to have already earned the MVP award in the eyes of the national media yet Doncic is shooting 33 percent from three while averaging 30.6 points per game, compared to Harden’s 35.5 percent from deep and 38.9 points per game.

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It’s obvious that Harden will always be the villain but following a 60 point game, there shouldn’t be anything negative to say. We are all witnessing offensive dominance and it shouldn’t be taken for granted.