Lakers vs Rockets: How unguardable James Harden battled fatigue and landed killer shots to help Houston go 1-0
'The Beard' had his offense mode switched on as he blitzed past the Lakers' defense to slam in 36 points. The Lakers erred by putting just one man to guard Harden and that's when he maximized the lead for the Rockets
For all the talk about fatigue and an emotionally draining victory, James Harden was a powerhouse of energy during Game 1 on Friday, when Houston made sure it had to lift off with a comprehensive 112-97 win over the Los Angeles Lakers. 'The Beard' had his offense mode switched on as he blitzed past the Lakers' defense to slam in 36 points.
After their win against Oklahoma City Thunder in Game 7, Harden bluntly said, "Offensively I felt like s**t. I couldn’t make a shot." Except, he did on Friday. He almost made up for all the deficit points with some breathtaking shots. Houston was always on the offensive this game and Harden's been the master of one-on-ones for a long time. The Lakers erred by putting just one man to guard Harden and that's when he maximized the lead for the Rockets.
It felt like watching Goku using Kaio-Ken. Harden put in his shots by while using his short bursts of energy to good use. By halftime, he had already scored 25 points for the Rockets. Ably assisting him were Russell Westbrook and Eric Gordon. For those who caught the full game, there was intent in Harden's play. There was no doubt Houston was looking at pegging the Lakers on the backfoot and that meant creating a huge difference in points.
Which they did as the Lakers trailed by 11 points for a major portion of the second half. The best they could do was have LeBron James and Anthony Davis find the odd basket. In the final minutes of the fourth quarter, Harden and his men had outlasted and played a much competitive game than their opposition, who after a six-day break looked resigned. Fans will not be happy with Danny Green missing a few three-pointer options that in fact could have closed the deficit.
Twitter too used Harden's achievements to take some digs at the Lakers fans, And honestly, why not? To add insult to injury, one of the Rockets' fans termed Harden as the "Real King James."
The real King James— •3°Coupe•1•DeVille°8• (@coupedeezy) September 5, 2020
That said, the onus will be on Harden to put in some more of these performances to take the team through. LeBron and his Lakers suffered a similar loss against the Portland Trail Blazers in their first round of the NBA Playoffs but bounced back to win the next four games to progress. Quite simply, the series is far from over. But for now, Harden can celebrate his achievements on Friday evening.
The two sides will meet again on Sunday.