It seems that James Harden’s roller-coaster season will continue to roll.
In the marquee matchup against the road team Phoenix Suns on Saturday evening, Harden, in spite of having a lopsided triple-double performance, had a poor scoring night with only 12 markers in a lowly 4-of-15 shooting — insufficient enough to overpower the Brooklyn Nets in the 113-107 concluding score card.
Right at the post-game availability, Harden said they failed to set a grooving start which could have conditioned them down the stretch.
“We didn’t get off to a good start and we were basically playing catch up the whole game.”
Phoenix stomped Brooklyn at the end of the first period with a 14-point margin, and eventually ended the third with four additional markers of advantage. The Nets tried to claw their way back and had a late-game run in the fourth, but it wasn’t enough to turn tables around as the mighty Suns remained supreme – winning their 16th consecutive game.
Harden, who had 14 dimes but an off-night offensive output, added that he is having difficulties in playmaking and grabbing a bucket.
“I’m trying to figure out when to score, when to playmaker … When to do everything. It’s been difficult.”
Head coach Steve Nash meanwhile admitted that it was a tough game for Harden, who had tough looks courtesy of Suns forward Mikal Bridges’ defensive presence.
“It was a tough night for him,” said Nash.” [He] Didn’t get a lot of good looks, but that’s a part of our growth.”
Harden is currently averaging 20.7 markers, 9.2 assists, 7.6 rebounds in an inconsistent 41 percent field goal splits. Without feeling the presence of fellow star Kyrie Irving, the 2018 league MVP has to literally step up and be consistent as the competitive nature of the rest of the teams continue to arise. His current scoring productivity remains in question and flattened, an unusual thing for one of the most gifted scorers the game has ever seen.
If the Nets are planning to be an overwhelming force all throughout the championship, Kevin Durant’s output isn’t enough. Harden has to be mindful that his role in this veteran-loaded Brooklyn squad is truly significant — as his facilitating and offensive wits are the engine and deciding factor of the borough’s finish at the end of the season in June.