The Brooklyn Nets pulled out an impressive 124-120 victory over the Los Angeles Clippers on Tuesday. While the win was a total team effort on the part of the Nets, the member of the ‘big 3’ that stood out the most was eight-time all-star James Harden who had himself a career night. Harden notched his 50th career triple-double last night with 23 points, 11 rebounds, and 14 assists. It was his fourth time doing so since being traded to Brooklyn.
Harden’s Playmaking Is What Separates the Nets
Harden may be one of the most prolific scorers in NBA history as he has led the league in points per game each of the last three seasons. As easily as Harden can put the ball in the basket his greatest strength may be his playmaking and ability to control the tempo of the offense. Harden leads the league in assists, averaging 11.4 dimes per game. He is the only player in the NBA that is averaging double-digit assists.
“Just coming into this team, obviously leading the league in scoring the last few years, not many players can just try to switch up their entire game and focus on other things. Not many players can. Me, I know the roster. I know what we have on this team and scoring isn’t everything,” Harden told reporters on Zoom after the win via SNY. “I try to impact the game in other ways. I try to get my shooters involved. Obviously, Kevin and Kai will get their easier looks when they can. Getting our bigs easy touches around the rim. “
"Scoring isn't everything"
James Harden talks about reaching the 50 career triple-double mark and impacting the game all across the board pic.twitter.com/N2nFW8wP5Y
— Nets Videos (@SNYNets) February 3, 2021
Harden Is an Underrated Defender
To go along with his career night, Harden also played some clutch defense on Kawhi Leonard in the waning moments of the fourth quarter. For a team that has constantly been ridiculed for their lack of defensive effort, Brooklyn was able to contain the offensive firepower of Kawhi and Paul George. Harden acknowledges that they will need to bring that type of defensive energy every night if they want to compete for a championship.
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“Defensively, getting after it. Taking upon a challenge whether coach makes me guard that night and take on a challenge to make it tough on them every single night,” Harden told reporters over Zoom via NetsDaily. “so it is not about points for me and it’s not about stats for me. It’s about getting the win and I think since I’ve been here, I try whatever it takes for us to win and that is all that matters.”
Harden sent a warning to the league that when Kyrie rejoined the Nets after he returned from his personal leave it would be “scary hours” for the rest of the league. Last night was just a preview of that, as Brooklyn put on a tough shot-making clinic in their win over the Clippers. It is still very early in the season but you would have to think that if the Nets continue to trend upwards they will be the odds on favorites to come out of the Eastern Conference.