Fans and critics often ridicule Houston Rockets superstar James Harden for his lackluster effort on defense. However, forward PJ Tucker thinks Harden can play defense when he takes it seriously, per Tim MacMahon of ESPN.
PJ Tucker, with a wry smile, on James Harden’s game-saving stop on Kawhi Leonard: “He can play defense when he wants to.”
— Tim MacMahon (@espn_macmahon) January 26, 2019
This was evident in the reigning MVP’s game-saving stop against Toronto Raptors superstar Kawhi Leonard’s attempt to steal the road victory.
Toronto almost pulled off its version of Tracy McGrady’s 13 points in 35 seconds, as they came close to completing the incredible come back against Houston.
The Rockets were up by 11 with a little over a minute to go and looked to be comfortably on their way to the victory. However, the Raptors went on a torrid run in that final minute, as the Rockets repeatedly turned the ball over twice in a 30-second span. Toronto capitalized on Houston’s mistakes and knocked down three three-pointers to close the gap within two with 27 seconds left in the game.
With Houston in possession, guard Eric Gordon flung up a bad three-pointer with 20 seconds left in the game in the hopes of getting a foul. However, the referees didn’t call one and the Raptors had one final shot to complete their come back.
Toronto drew up a play to have Harden, a notoriously known lackluster defender, to switch on Kawhi Leonard, who was being defended by PJ Tucker. Fortunately for Houston, Harden showed up for this defensive play and got up in Leonard’s grill. He forced a tough three-pointer from the two-way superstar as the shot didn’t even hit the rim.
Ball game. Rockets win. And this is all in part of James Harden’s incredible effort on that last play to help prevent Houston from an embarrassing choke job.