The Los Angeles Lakers were not happy with the calls James Harden was benefiting from on Thursday night, but Mike D’Antoni is firing back at L.A. His message to the Lakers is simple: don’t foul.
Mike D’Antoni’s response to the Lakers complaints about the fouls on James Harden: They should talk about it, don’t foul.
— Kelly Iko (@KellyIkoNBA) December 14, 2018
James Harden was unstoppable on Thursday when he torched the Lakers to the tune of 50 points, 18 of which came from the free-throw line. Harden took 19 free throws while the Lakers only attempted 27 as a team. They might have a gripe with the officiating, but there’s no doubt that Harden knows how to draw contact.
With the NBA’s emphasis on freedom of movement, defenders must understand that the old days of hand-checking are over — for better or worse. Harden is already tough to defend, but with the new rules, he becomes almost impossible to stop once he gets in a rhythm.
D’Antoni’s comments could be indicative of a growing rivalry between the Lakers and Rockets. Obviously, the brawl earlier this year was the start of some bad blood. Harden’s performance and D’Antoni’s comments won’t sit well with the Lakers.
The Lakers won’t forget Harden’s 50-point triple-double on Thursday. They seem to feel like they were scammed by the refs to a certain extent. But there’s no doubt they’ll be looking for revenge on Jan. 19.
Although Houston is still on the outside of the playoff picture, there’s a decent chance that the Lakers and Rockets meet in the playoffs. That would be a tremendous series and serve as a wonderful crescendo for the growing rivalry.