James Harden is the Rockets best player, after Thursday’s 114-75 season ending loss to the Spurs at Toyota Center, the Rockets best player did what he was supposed to do.
“Everything falls on my shoulder,” he said. “I take responsibility for it, both ends of the floor.”
In a season that saw him in the thick of the MVP race, Harden may very well be remembered for the 10-point dud he put up in game six. Harden shot 2-of-11 from the field and committed six turnovers. He did not attempt his first shot until midway through the second quarter. He had as many points in the first half as he had turnovers, five.
“I really just didn’t have rhythm from the beginning of the game,” he said. “I was making some passes ad we just didn’t knock down shots or whatever the case may be.”
The Rockets were never in Thursday’s game. They led 5-4 early, and after a Spurs 10-2 run, the Rockets scored the next seven, but trailed from that point on. The Spurs led by 19 at halftime, scored on their first possession of the second half, and never led by fewer than 20 the rest of the night, even without Kawhi Leonard, who missed the game due to a sprained left ankle.
“They just dominated,” Harden acknowledged. “They played well. Moved the ball extremely well and made shots.”
Harden never looked comfortable once the game started. He passed on good shots, gave the ball up when he had a lane to the rim, and had trouble getting on the same page with the teammates that surrounded him, and for that he credited the Spurs.
“They did a really good job of corralling, showing bodies, their bigs at the rim, things like that,” he said. “I couldn’t really get a rhythm, especially to the basket. Pau (Gasol) did a really good job of using his length at the rim, so hats off to them.”
Despite the disappointing finish, the 2016-17 season should still be considered a success for Harden. He averaged over 29 points per game and led the NBA in assists in his first year playing for Mike D’Antoni. His fifth season as a Rocket ended with 55 regular season wins, with a trip to the conference semifinals, and e likes the direction that they are headed, Thursday night’s loss not withstanding.
“It’s frustrating the way that we lost, especially how a good of a year we had as a team with a new coaching staff and some new key pieces to our team, (the season was) pretty good, could’ve been better, but we’re in the right direction, and we have a lot of improvement to do with the team that we have right now.”