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Rockets’ James Harden gets hyped after beating Taj Gibson on opening tip

James Harden, Taj Gibson

With the Houston Rockets playing exclusively center-less basketball, guard James Harden got the call on Monday to jump for the opening tip against Knicks big-man Taj Gibson. After the 6-foot-5 Harden won the tip over the 6-foot-9 Gibson, the former MVP let out a noticeable yell and chest thump in front of the Madison Square Garden crowd—as if he’d just posterized Gibson.

Unfortunately for Houston, the opening tip has been the only hype moment of the game so far for the Beard. Harden is just 3-of-10 from the field and 0-of-6 from downtown—though he has 16 points thanks to a 10-10 mark from the free throw line. The Rockets trail the Knicks at halftime, 73-63.

The Rockets (39-20) come into the Big Apple as one of the hottest teams in basketball. They haven’t lost since going all-in on small ball with the swap of Clint Capela for Robert Covington, and have won six in a row overall—propelled by the uptick in play from Russell Westbrook. The Rockets are currently holding down the No. 4 seed in the Western Conference.

The Knicks (18-42), on the other hand, have dropped six of their past seven contests as they limp towards the finish line and another high lottery pick. A win over Houston would mark just their fifth victory over a team with a winning record this season. On the positive side, they introduced (yet another) new regime on Monday, as former CAA agent Leon Rose officially took over as team president.