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Mike D’Antoni says players ‘might as well give up’ trying to guard James Harden

Rockets, James Harden, Mike D'Antoni

Houston Rockets coach Mike D’Antoni has flat out ran out of superlatives for his star shooting guard and reigning MVP James Harden after he trotted out a 44-point triple-double to stun the Golden State Warriors in overtime.

When asked with a way to effectively guard him, D’Antoni sold his franchise star even more, saying there is no way to possibly do so.

“You don’t. You can’t. Might as well give up,” said a laughing D’Antoni. “You can’t guard him. Unless they foul him and they don’t call it. That’d be the only way.”

Harden had to shoot a whole lot to wind up with 44 points on the night, putting up 32 shots and hitting only 13 of them (40.6 percent from the field), but what was more impressive was his willingness to keep shooting the ball despite a horrid first half.

The Beard was 3-of-9 from deep in the first half alone and had his first two jump shots blocked by Warriors wings Klay Thompson and Kevin Durant — later settling for a more methodic pace and baiting the former into a jump-shooting foul in the first quarter.

Reporters told D’Antoni that Harden attempted 23 treys all on his own, causing immediate laughter from the green-lighting coach, who stopped laughing only to interject that overtime played a part in so many attempts.

Harden didn’t break 40 points until making his final shot of the game, a wing three-pointer that slipped through a heavy contest by Warriors playmaker Draymond Green and Thompson, who were draped over him as he let one last shot fly, resulting in a 135-134 overtime victory.

The Warriors defended him beautifully in the last possession but, as D’Antoni noted, no one can guard Harden at the level he’s playing right now.