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Chris Paul sets the record straight on viral photo with James Harden

Chris Paul, Thunder, James Harden, Rockets

A viral photo of Chris Paul supposedly staring down James Harden in the dying seconds of Monday’s Game 6 encounter between the Oklahoma City Thunder and Houston Rockets has been making its rounds on the internet of late. As it turns out, however, Paul wasn’t giving Harden a death stare after coming up big with clutch play after clutch play.

For starters, here is the photo in question, which apparently was just taken at an odd angle:

Joe Vardon of The Athletic was sitting courtside, and he shared his perspective of the (non) incident:

Except, the look you thought you saw … didn’t really happen. From my seat inside the arena Monday, for the Oklahoma City Thunder’s 104-100 win over Houston in Game 6, I could see Paul looking down toward Thunder coach Billy Donovan with 3.8 seconds left. What the TNT camera showed was Paul and Harden standing next to each other at the foul line, while Danilo Gallinari was about to make the game-clinching free throw, staring daggers through each other. But their eyes never met.

Even Chris Paul himself explained that there was never any staredown:

“I wasn’t looking at him,” Paul told Vardon. “I was looking down at coach, and then at the scoreboard, because if Gallo makes that shot, it’s game.”

It’s easy to buy into the Chris Paul vs. James Harden narrative after how things ended for them as teammates in Houston. In what was a franchise-altering summer for both squads, Houston sent Paul to OKC in exchange for Russell Westbrook. There were rumors of a beef between Paul and Harden, but it was CP3 who had the last laugh on Monday.

These two teams will face off again for a final time this season on Wednesday in a winner-take-all Game 7 contest. The winner of that game will advance to the next round to face the Los Angeles lakers in the Western Conference Semifinals.