James Harden has said and done almost all of the right things since being traded to the Brooklyn Nets in mid-January.
The eight-time All-Star and 2018 MVP quickly got on the same page with Kyrie Irving about who would be Brooklyn’s point guard and who would serve as shooting guard. He expressed regret for how his messy breakup with the Houston Rockets unfolded. And he’s thrust himself into the MVP conversation as the Nets’ floor general by regularly posting triple-doubles.
And then there’s the leadership Harden has exhibited. During Brooklyn’s 112-108 win against the Los Angeles Clippers on Sunday, it once again came in the form of Harden calling out the team’s center.
Harden Calls Out DeAndre Jordan
Toward the end of the first quarter Sunday, DeAndre Jordan got into a squabble with a referee. After a brief exchange between the two, Harden entered the scene and lightly pushed Jordan back so the two could have a one-on-one chat.
Earlier, Harden was seen shouting at Jordan, who has mixed solid play with lackadaisical efforts throughout the season. Earlier Sunday, it was more of the latter — and fans on Twitter took notice.
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Jordan Responds in a Massive Way
Indeed, Jordan did appear to wake up shortly thereafter. His thunderous slam on an alley-oop gave the Nets a 42-40 lead with about seven minutes left in the second quarter. Harden got the assist on the play, inbounding the ball with perfect precision to Jordan for the dunk.
Jordan wound up having a stellar game with 11 points on 5-of-6 shooting, 10 rebounds and a season-high-tying four blocks in 28 minutes. His one-handed tip-in gave the Nets a 110-108 lead with 11 seconds to play.
For Jordan, it was his third double-double of the season and his 100th career game with at least four blocks, five of which have come as a member of the Nets.
Not the First Time Harden and Jordan Have Shared a Heated Exchange
Earlier this season, in a game against the Detroit Pistons on February 9, Jordan appeared to just give up playing defense in the middle of a play.
During a timeout shortly thereafter, YES Network cameras caught Harden’s frustration with Jordan. Harden, the perennial All-Star whom the Nets acquired via four-team trade on January 14, was seen voicing that frustration by confronting Jordan about his defense during a timeout.
The next day, after the Nets rebounded from the Pistons loss with a win over the Indiana Pacers, Brooklyn coach Steve Nash said he and DeAndre Jordan also shared some heated exchanges in Detroit, per Brian Lewis of the New York Post. Jordan responded with 12 points, 13 rebounds and three locks — and Nash praised the way the veteran center bounced back, per Lewis.
Jordan, an All-Star for the Clippers in 2016-17 who twice led the NBA in rebounds, insisted his exchanges with Nash and Harden weren’t anything negative.
“We’re competitors. Everybody on this team. All the coaches, a lot of those guys have played in this league before. And our team, we’ve got a lot veteran guys who ultimately want to reach the pinnacle of this game of basketball,” Jordan said after the Pacers game, via SNY. “It was just — we want to win. It’s just trying to find the right ways and schemes during game and different adjustments. That’s where I think our conversation went. A lot of things get blown out of proportion and some of that is you guys’ fault (the media), some of that is just people trying to get clicks. But every conversation that people have, we can’t judge by their facial expressions. A lot of that is just how we talk during the heat of the game. It’s not anything negative.”