Trading for James Harden might be the NBA’s offseason acquisition of the year. The Houston Rockets would agree, and the Charlotte Bobcats might second that notion.
Harden, the Rockets all-star shooting guard, got his first career triple double as the Rockets defeated the Bobcats 109-95. Harden was one of four Rockets starters who had at least 19 points. Patrick Patterson and Chandler Parsons both had 24 points, while Omer Asik had 19 points and 15 rebounds.
The Rockets shot over 50% from the field and were +15 in rebounding margin. The Bobcats outscored the Rockets bench by 33, but it didn’t matter with the game Harden had for Houston. Harden finished with 21 points, 11 rebounds and 11 assists. He got to the line nine times, which wasn’t as much as he did in Charlotte in January. But still Harden showed why he is one of the best players in the league and still getting better.
Kemba Walker led the Bobcats with 24 points and Ramon Sessions had 20. All the Bobcats guards once again scored in double digits to lead their perimeter heavy offense. The Bobcats big men combined for just six points, which has sadly become the norm for this team.
Michael Kidd-Gilchrist left the game early after an inadvertant hip check from teammate Jeffery Taylor. Kidd-Gilchrist could not leave the game under his own power. Bryan Wendland has the update on MKG’s condition on the frontpage of the website. If the team is expected to play without MKG for a while, then it’d be logical to expect more minutes out of Taylor or even Reggie Williams.
In the preview for last night’s game, the main focus for the Bobcats was containing Harden’s playmaking and stopping Omer Asik from having a big night on the glass and around the rim. Neither happened for the Bobcats Saturday as both had big games. Games like these further widen the view on the Bobcats imbalanced team and lack of defensive progress.
It’s not a welcome sight when Cole Aldrich can score one less point in 10 minutes than your entire big men can in 76 minutes. The Bobcats offensive ineptitude up front can’t even be justified by defensive prowess, considering the Bobcats don’t do a good job of stopping teams in the paint. I’ve probably repeated myself in multiple game recaps, but the main objective of this season was to put the pieces in place to change the culture.
Where is it?
Dunlap presumably got the Bobcats job because of the work he’s done at both the collegiant and professional level working with younger players, and getting them to play hard and defend. So far that hasn’t happened here. If you were a casual Bobcats fans, could you even tell that this team has a different head coach from last year? That’s one of the true judgments of coaching impact. This team has got better in some areas, but overall it’s about the same as last season.
Houston is a reminder of what a culture change can look like. 26-23 isn’t a great record, but they are running the ball, spacing the floor, utilizing athleticism and putting in effort all-around. They aren’t the best defensive team, but they play with balance, they share the ball and they effective utilize their gameplan win or lose. You can’t say the same about the Bobcats this season.
The main issue at hand now is how this team will look if MKG is expected to miss significant time.