Rockets video: James Harden makes Lakers' LeBron James give up dunk
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Video: Rockets’ James Harden forces Lakers’ LeBron James to concede challenge in huge dunk

james harden, lebron james

Chris Paul changes everything for the James Harden-led Houston Rockets. Even in his diminished, injury and age-related capacity, the future Hall of Famer is crucial to the Rockets’ hopes of living up to preseason expectations as the sharpest thorn in the Golden State Warriors’ side.

Why? Harden, as Houston’s last two playoff appearances made abundantly clear, can’t dribble, dribble, dribble his way into step-back threes and euro-step finishes on a possession-by-possession basis and expect to hold up to the scrutiny of playoff basketball.

The Rockets need some semblance of secondary ball handling to keep Harden fresh, and Paul is their best chance at getting it.

Another wrinkle the presence of Paul provides? Activating Harden away from the ball, like on this backdoor cut and powerful slam over a meek LeBron James in Thursday’s matchup against the Los Angeles Lakers.

Talk about a business decision.

Fortunately for the Lakers, they made life on Harden far more difficult than this uncontested backdoor dunk suggests. The reigning MVP had 30 points, five rebounds, and six assists on 11-of-24 shooting against Los Angeles, but scored just two points in the fourth quarter, eventually fouling after James drew a charge on him in crunch time.

The Lakers, in need of every win they can get after falling outside the West’s top eight recently as James missed 15 games with a groin injury, came from behind to beat the Rockets 111-106.