Rockets’ James Harden refuses to come out late in dominant scrimmage performance
Houston Rockets superstar James Harden takes scrimmage games very seriously. If you need proof of this, then you just need to know about how he refused to come out late in the game on Sunday against the Memphis Grizzlies.
Rockets head coach Mike D’Antoni wanted to take out Harden with four minutes remaining in the contest. The former MVP had other things in mind and decided that he would play out the remainder of the game.
Mike D'Antoni: "I tried to take James [Harden] out with about four minutes to go, but he wouldn;t have it. He wanted to play and win."
— Tim MacMahon (@espn_macmahon) July 27, 2020
James Harden ended up logging a healthy 36 minutes, finishing with 31 points on 7-of-15 shooting, five triples, eight rebounds, nine assists, two steals, and a block. He did turn the ball over seven times, though, so it’s not as if the 30-year-old didn’t show any signs of rust.
When asked about his decision to play heavy minutes during the tune up game, Harden had a straightforward and fairly logical explanation:
“I just don’t want to play 20 minutes, in reality when the 8 games come, I’ll be playing 35-36 minutes, it’s gonna be a huge shock,” he said, via Rockets reporter Alykhan Bijani. “I wanna prepare myself so when next week comes, I’m ready and it’s not a big shock on my legs or body.”
The Rockets managed to win the contest, 119-104, marking their first scrimmage win inside the Disney World bubble. Notably, Russell Westbrook was also able to suit up for the Rockets following his speedy recovery from COVID-19. Westbrook managed 27 minutes, putting up eight points (on 3-of-14 from the floor), six rebounds, and five assists.
Houston kicks off its seeding games on Friday in a matchup against co-division rivals, the Dallas Mavericks.