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Scottie Pippen calls James Harden’s 55 point-game for Rockets ‘nothing’

Scottie Pippen, James Harden, Rockets

James Harden’s scoring prowess for the Houston Rockets is a marvel among players and coaches around the NBA… but former Chicago Bulls legend Scottie Pippen is not impressed.

Pippen said that Harden’s latest outburst–a 55-point performance against the Cleveland Cavaliers–is not impressive because James Harden is “launching” shots:

Perhaps it would be one thing if Harden was hoisting at a 2005-06 Kobe Bryant level, but that was far from the case on Wednesday night. Harden made 20-of-34 field goals, including 10-of-18 three-point attempts. He was efficient in every sense of the word. Harden did commit six turnovers, but that is a price he frequently pays for having such a high usage rate.

Similarly, the statement is that much more perplexing because of the context Pippen uses. For example, his statement that Westbrook is “wide open” is flawed because–if he is open on the perimeter–Westbrook is shooting the three at a 23 percent clip. A contested Harden step-back in isolation is probably a higher percentage shot than an uncontested Westbrook three, at this stage.

Also, it is curious that Pippen has so much criticism for Harden when he played alongside Michael Jordan. Harden is averaging just a few more shot attempts per game than Jordan did in his prime. But on the flip side, Harden is averaging more assists per game. He is asked to do even more on the offensive side.

Pippen has frequently lauded Jordan as the greatest player of all-time despite Jordan often feeling the need to carry the weight of the Bulls offense on his shoulders. Why should Harden be penalized for also taking matters into his own hands, especially when Westbrook is struggling? It is a puzzling question, but part of a rich drama which spans multiple generations of NBA players and has a reach of more than a quarter of a century.