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James Harden downplays Kawhi Leonard’s defensive impact: ‘I just missed layups’

james harden, kawhi leonard

The Houston Rockets followed an impressive 27-point road victory with a 25-point loss at the hands of the San Antonio Spurs in Game 2. MVP candidate James Harden went from a well-paced 20 points and 14 assists in Game 1 to a measly 13 points on a dreadful 3-of-17 shooting from the floor in Game 2.

When asked about his performance in Wednesday’s game, The Beard wasn’t worried in the least.

“I just missed layups,” Harden told ESPN’s Tim MacMahon, offering that Kawhi Leonard‘s defense had no impact on his bad night.

Harden missed more than just layups, going an ineffective 2-of-9 from the three-point line while only getting to the line six times — three of them in a somewhat absurd foul call on a deep three-point attempt.

Leonard had a similarly tough outing in Game 1, going only 5-of-14 from the floor, but managed to come out with a 21-point, 11-rebound, six-assist outing despite his struggles.

The two franchise stars traded bad games through the first two meetings between these teams — something that doesn’t concern Rockets head coach Mike D’Antoni.

“I’m not concerned with James Harden. That’s the least of my problems,” D’Antoni told MacMahon.

As the series shifts to the Toyota Center, the result of the series will orbit around which superstar is able to regain composure and turn out consistently explosive performances game-after-game.

If Houston can grab two games at home, they would put all the pressure on the Spurs heading back for a Game 5 in San Antonio — but it’ll take James Harden to start making layups before that can happen.

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